The 49ers wide receiver debate: Part Two

Thearon W. Henderson

It's been a few days since our Brandon Lloyd conversation, but the WR issue still isn't settled.

A few days ago, I wrote about the merits of bringing in Brandon Lloyd to help bolster our WR corps. I anticipated a raging debate, with the majority of the people disagreeing with my assertion, and you all did not disappoint. That was a fun discussion to watch unfold. And now that it has been a few days, the dust has settled, and not much has changed in respect to the roster, I thought it might be a good time to broach the question again.

I'm not necessarily interested in focusing the discussion on Mr. Lloyd again -- we have thoroughly discussed that topic already. I think the merits are already clear; at least they are to me -- Lloyd is the best free agent option. He put up huge numbers in pre-Peyton Manning Denver. Just think about that for a minute. That actually happened.

But, no, that doesn't need to be discussed. Rather, I find it interesting that people's opinions seem to break down along one bone of contention: if we should even bring in another WR. As I understand it, the people who don't think the 49ers should bring in another WR think that the time is now to get the young guys some reps. If we bring in another WR, we shut out the young guns, not giving them the opportunity to break out and be potential superstars, if not just effective players.

The argument is compelling, granted. I, too, would like to see all our young players break out. And, to be frank, there is no reason why they can't. I want the team to bring in a free agent because I think that player would be better than our current players. If he isn't, then he won't play much. He would, basically, be a guy who provides competition leading up to the season and then provides depth during the season. If we bring in Lloyd and our receiving corps is so good that he becomes a backup, then we are a blessed team.

But, Lloyd or some other FA is likely to be better than our current guys. I have faith in our draft choices and our coaching. I'm an A.J. Jenkins fan. I want him to be successful. But, he has zero career catches. Zero. We cannot project him to be as good as a player who had over 1,000 yards last year. We can't project him to be as good as a guy who had half that production last year. That doesn't mean he won't be a 500-yard-guy this season. In fact, he could be that type of player. But, we really don't know, and historical precedent makes me suspicious. In the playoffs, the team went with a play designed for Chad Hall. That is not a ringing endorsement on the part of the coaching staff. Not at all.

So, when I read people saying "let's give our young guys a chance to to be super all-stars and elite players," what I see is "let's be worse in the short term, because we are willfully not getting better players in order to let worse players to develop." We have a window right now. For the next couple of years, we have a serious shot at winning the Super Bowl. Right now, the short term is the long term. Football is a fickle sport. Teams that were consistent playoff teams can all of a sudden be bottom-dwellers. Every year, there is a team that made the playoffs the last season and doesn't make it the next. We don't want to be that team -- not with the window we have right now.

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