When you take a look at the wide receivers for the 49ers in 2012, you get Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and then ... nothing. That is to say, you get nothing really solid in regards to who will be the No. 3 guy. I guess you could pencil in "potential first-round draft pick," but that's a bit silly at this point. It is also somewhat silly that we're looking for our No. 3 when we still don't have a No. 1 (Manningham never proved to even be a reliable No. 2), but we'll roll with it.
So going down the list, that leaves Randy Moss, Kyle Williams, Ted Ginn Jr. and Joe Hastings. That list recently included Dontavia Bogan, but he was released immediately after being medically cleared to return to football activity, so that's out the window. Moss can not be part of any reliable preseason lineup because the guy is more unknown at this point than Williams. Anything Moss does will be a bonus.
That leaves us with Hastings, Ginn and Williams ... not necessarily ideal, but depending on your capacity for forgiveness, it could be a decent one. I think we need to just assume that Hastings isn't going to be that guy, and that leaves us with Ginn and Williams. The former who played as high as No. 2 last year and the latter being the guy who fumbled away the NFC Championship game.
Looking at that, one might think that Ginn is the clear favorite. Really though, it doesn't look like he factors much into the 49ers' plans outside of being a return man. So, unless you're a fan of Colin Jones getting more time on offense, you're left with Williams. Is that a bad thing? I don't think it is, not by a longshot. The key to really examining Williams is to forget everything he's done on special teams.
Just forget that Williams made some dumb mistakes on special teams and has a history of making dumb mistakes at inopportune times (one would argue there's never an opportune time to make a dumb mistake, but as I'm a fan of silly putty and chocolate chip cookies, one would be making a futile argument). And remember the amount of hype surrounding him for a few weeks in 2011. The buzz was about how Williams, finally given playing time, was making things happen.
He's a quick-twitch agile player with good route running, good hands and fantastic speed. And do you remember that monster stiff arm where he just tossed a guy? That was pretty darn rad. I talked a lot about how good he can be with some more time last year, as did some other folks - Tre9er in particular was a big fan and was ready to run with Williams and Crabtree in 2012, before all of the hype was extinguished by the NFC Championship.
So I ask you ... have you forgiven Williams for what he did? If you have, are you excited about him as a wide receiver going forward? Maybe you haven't forgiven him - can you still recognize his potential? I figured enough time has passed, at this point, to ask the question.