We've had a whole lot of conversation about the budding Alex Smith-Shaun Hill QB controversy that quickly developed yesterday. We have plenty of room for that, but I thought it might be nice to mix things up a bit given how many issues there are sitting on the table for the 49ers. There are defensive issues, there are offensive issues, there are special teams issues.
For this particular thread though, I thought it would be useful to concentrate on the wide receiver issues. And I'm not talking about Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan. I'm not even talking about Isaac Bruce, although one could say he could conceivably be affected by changes in the wide receiver rotation. No, I'm here to talk about the bushel of wide receivers that were either inactive or ineffective yesterday. The point has been made over and over about how the 49ers are supposed to be a power running team but they've got a ton of receivers, most of whom see little to no action for weeks at a time. What gives?
Rather than just using this thread to vent, I encourage also providing your suggestions for the best utilization of the various players, whether it be cutting someone, using them in another role, whatever.
After the jump we break down the plethora of wide receivers that are clogging up the roster...
Brandon Jones - One could argue he's one of two motivations for this post. Talk about just bad timing all around. Brandon Jones was signed before the 49ers knew Michael Crabtree would fall into their lap. Some people also mention not knowing Isaac Bruce would be back, but I really don't see that as that big a deal. Throw in the injury in training camp and he was a dead man walking pretty quickly.
The question now is what do they do with him? I've seen folks mentioning how the 49ers would be able to go Crabtree, Morgan, Jones in 2010. However, if that were the case, wouldn't we at least see Jones as a #4 receiver now, as opposed to inactive? So do the 49ers cut him and take whatever cap hit there is? Does Jones potentially see more playing time if Alex Smith becomes the starter the rest of the way? Jones is a deep threat and Alex Smith has a considerably better arm than Hill on the longer passes. What do you do?
Micheal Spurlock - I remain absolutely baffled by Spurlock. Given Arnaz Battle's fumble today, do we see Spurlock activated for the return game next week? The decision to continue hanging on to Micheal Spurlock continues to mystify me. Is he a Wildcat guy? A receiver? A return man? Can you really answer these questions when he doesn't actually play in games? I am absolutely baffled as to why he remains on this team. If he's not active and in the return game next week, my confusion will continue.
Jason Hill - At times I'm confused by what's happened with Jason Hill, and other times I think I get it. I recall hearing somewhere that he wasn't performing all that well in practice. I can't find a link and don't know if that remains the case, but I'd have to imagine he's in somebody's (or multiple somebodies) doghouse. Whatever you think of him, he did show some solid skills at times last season. Or at least enough to warrant some additional playing time. Instead, he's been inactive for four out of six games and there seems to be no end in sight.
Arnaz Battle - I've always been an Arnaz Battle fan. He made the switch from QB to WR while the 49ers were absolutely abysmal and he managed to put up some decent numbers on an otherwise crappy team. But his act is definitely starting to wear thin. The fumble was bad enough, but he's not doing much of anything else at this point. As Florida Danny put it in the recap thread, "of whom in the niner front ofice does arnaz battle have naked pictures?" Who I ask, who? Because he continues to stick around even as better talent is added around him.
I have got to believe there's a reason for this logjam a receiver. I don't know what it is, but I just can't accept that it's just a roster screw-up of such epic proportions. I know there are folks who have no faith in Scot McCloughan and company. I'm not actually one of these people. Or at least not one who thinks he's a colossal screw-up. In looking at the wide receivers, the Brandon Jones stuff can be somewhat explained (although it still doesn't explain the current lack of playing time). The rest of the wide receivers listed above? I just don't know what to say.