The 49ers face the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday, and odds seem good that we'll see Jon Baldwin get some playing time. The 49ers worked Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins into the rotation in time for the preseason opener, and given the limited evaluation time for Baldwin, getting him on the field ASAP is essential.
According to Matt Barrows, Baldwin is not expected to arrive in Santa Clara until later tonight, and will miss this afternoon's practice. That leaves him three days of practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday (day off on Thursday), along with what I believe will be a walkthrough on Saturday.
The competition now gets a little more interesting on the wide receiver depth chart. Although this trade shows anybody can be unloaded, I think we can confidently state that Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams and Quinton Patton will make the 53-man roster. Marlon Moore also seems to be closing in on locking down a roster spot. Yesterday, Jim Harbaugh was asked about the pecking order at wide receiver:
"Wouldn't say anything is cemented, but there's been excellent play from Anquan Boldin. [WR] Kyle Williams, we feel like we know what Kyle can do and we've been a little bit cautious there. I'm not going to go through every single guy, but there's some framework there. [WR] Marlon Moore has done an excellent job. I think everybody is in a very competitive role after those three."
Assuming those four spots (with Patton) are locked down, that would leave no more than probably two spots for Jon Baldwin, Austin Collie, Chad Hall, Ricardo Lockette, Kassim Osgood, Chuck Jacobs and Lavelle Hawkins. It is impossible to slot Baldwin anywhere in this group. I suppose he could end up getting cut if he shows nothing, but does anybody actually think the 49ers would deal Jenkins, and then turn around and cut Baldwin, taking on his 2013 guaranteed salary for nothing?
This weekend's game will hopefully give us a better idea of any wide receiver pecking order. Jacobs has had a solid preseason, but with only fourth quarter performances, I'm not sure he can survive the numbers game. On the other hand, Austin Collie has been only getting second half snaps as well, so we'll see if he moves up in the rotation this Sunday.
Through the first two games, the starting receivers were Anquan Boldin and Marlon Moore, with Chad Hall coming on as the slot receiver and A.J. Jenkins the first addition off the bench. With Jenkins departure, will we see Baldwin automatically slot into that spot, or does Austin Collie get some extra snaps higher up the rotation?