Niners Nation #Channel49 Twitter Q&A Mailbag, Vol. 8: Wide Receiver Depth, Vance McDonald & More

Michael Crabtree tells Josh Gordy just who the number one receiver is on this team. - Dilip Vishwanat

Our weekly Twitter Q&A occurs every Friday at 2 p.m. PT. The follow-up post contains elaborated answers to some questions. This week we look at some of the rookies, some of the veterans returning from injury and a UDFA everyone's talking about.

I'm getting straight into the Qs and As because, well, it's been a long day. I hope you guys don't mind. You know where to find us, every Friday, 2pm. We're answering all the questions you've got and more. Besides, who wants to here me prattle on endlessly.

Trevor Talks

Very excited! By now, all 49ers fans know who Marcus Lattimore is and his story. Marcus has shown big time ability throughout his college career, he's just had some really bad luck when it comes to injuries. Hopefully the injuries are a thing of the past for Lattimore, and hopefully he comes back better than ever.

With the 49ers very deep at running back, San Francisco was a perfect landing spot for Lattimore. He won't have to be rushed back, and will be able to get to 110% health before ever seeing the field. The competitor in Lattimore wants to get back as soon as possible though, and that's what you have to love about him already.

As far as ability goes, he's still Frank the tank, he can still produce. With that said, his production may go down this season, but not because he's "slipping". However, his production could go down with Kendall Hunter, Lamichael James, Anthony Dixon, and possibly Marcus Lattimore looking to eat away carries from Frank. Gore's carries could go down some in 2013, so his numbers may not be as good, but he's still going to be the Frank we all know.

This is a difficult question to answer. Obviously Greg Roman is a very creative offensive mind, but make no mistake, that offense is Jim Harbaugh's baby. Harbaugh started his offensive scheme at the University of San Diego, and has added wrinkles to it ever since (jet sweep, read option, pistol). I believe the offense wouldn't hit any bumps in the road with a Roman departure, I certainly would not want that though. Then there's Vic Fangio. I'd say he is the one the 49ers can least afford to lose, but if he's replaced by Jim Tomsula or Ed Donatell, would the 49ers defense suffer? I think not. But if Tomsula or Donatell aren't the heir apparent, Fangio is the one they can't lose. Brad Seely is a heck of a special teams coach, but the 49ers had major issues last year on special teams with Seely as coach, so he'd be the one the Niners can afford to lose the most.

Whether good or bad, McDonald will have a big impact. The 49ers run a ton of two tight end sets, so McDonald will be an integral part of the 49ers offense. He certainly has the measurables and ability to become a really good tight end in the NFL, and I have faith in Jim Harbaugh's opinion on tight ends. Harbaugh is known to be a quarterback guru, but he is a tight end guru as well. The whole two tight end set philosophy has been entrenched in Harbaugh's psyche since he was coached at Michigan by his mentor and head coach Bo Schembechler. I believe McDonald will contribute in a positive way. He still has a lot of improvements to make when it comes to blocking and pass catching, but he's got the intangibles and the ability to be a weapon for the 49ers in the near future. Good luck to him.

Malone's Mouth

This has been a hot topic around the website and on Twitter. The 49ers have two fairly obvious choices for No. 1 and No. 2 receiver, in Michael Crabtree and the newly acquire Anquan Boldin. After that, it's a free-for-all. There really is no telling who will be the No. 3 receiver, getting the lion's share of the opportunities, as we hardly run four receiver sets. Each prospective candidate has some questions that need answering.

Mario Manningham would be the frontrunner if he wasn't rehabbing a horrendous knee injury that ended his season prematurely. He is not expected to be ready by training camp. They've yet to say when he'll be ready. Kyle Williams was the No. 4 receiver last year, before suffering a season-ending injury of his own. Last year's first-round draft choice A.J. Jenkins had zero catches last season, was rarely used and has yet to show any signs to the public that he is ready to assume the role. Which brings us to Quinton Patton, my favorite to lock down WR3. The rookie fell to us in the fourth round, was presumed by many to be ready to contribute straight away and is chomping at the bits to compete.

I think the depth chart will be Crabtree, Boldin, Patton, Williams, Jenkins while Manningham finishes recovering / gets up to speed. Then Manningham climbs the chart as he gets back into the swing of things. How high he'll climb is a mystery until we see him in action.

I think that we see LaMichael James take more and more carries away from both a healthy Kendall Hunter and an ageing Frank Gore. Hunter is expected to be ready by camp but it remains to be seen when he'll be 100%. James is so dynamic, I have to think both Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh would like to get him on the field more. He scored his first rushing touchdown in the postseason against the Falcons and will look to build on that.

One problem with James is that he doesn't get the 4-yard gains. He has the tendency to get zero-yard rushes for a few carries before breaking a 15-yarder, giving him a respectable average, but leaving the team frequently in a hole on third down. Until James fixes that problem, I think Hunter, assuming he's healthy, remains the No. 2 running back.

We'll most likely pick up another player before camp, simply because that's what teams do. A lot of people still want us to make a play for the unsigned Charles Woodson. He paid a visit to the team during the height of free agency but left without a contract and said he felt slighted. I take that to mean there's a big divide between what teams think he's worth and what he thinks of himself. That makes it seem unlikely we sign him.

What I would expect to happen is the 49ers signing a veteran offensive lineman. We have no experience at the backups. Unless Leonard Davis is brought back, which I haven't heard a single peep about, the team may bring someone in, like Davis last year, to provide a bit of experience in case of injury.

Quite a few people are asking this same question right now. The answer is yes, he can. Will he? I don't know. He's one of the most physically gifted people on the planet. It takes time to learn the game, though. He'll need to learn the rules, which are quite complicated for the outsider. It will take ages to get his football IQ up, but he should be able to get on the field within a few years. But we don't what he's made of mentally. He's decided to play American Football. He may quit at any time. Here in Australia, a well-known rugby player, Israel Folau, decided to give Aussie Rules Football a try. He gave it up after a year of looking lost and being one of the poorer players on his team.

When people are accustomed to success it's hard on them to fail repeatedly, which is what Okoye will do. He'll get knocked around on the practice squad for a year straight by a smaller. less-physically gifted guy who's practiced his whole life to knock people around. How he reacts to a year of that will let you know whether or not he's going to put in the time necessary to make the NFL.

Being a Sheep

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