One of the bigger stories of the early part of the offseason was the decision to deal a pick to the Miami Dolphins for Ted Ginn Jr. Ginn was a high profile draft choice in 2007 and struggled to make an impact outside of the kick return game (he returned 2 kicks for TDs last year). There were questions about his hands and whether he could do more than just run really fast.
Prior to training camp there wasn't a ton of talk about Ginn among the beatwriters, but GInn's name has popped up quite a bit in the last couple days. Obviously he's getting some return work in, but in the last couple practices, it seems like Ginn has started developing into an intriguing deep play threat for the team. It was a role for which he was originally drafted, but one for which he never really took ownership. Is it possible Ginn could break out as one of the 49ers receivers, or are we going to join Dolphins fans in getting our hopes up only to have them dashed when the status quo continues?
At this point, it appears Michael Crabtree is the #1 split end, while Josh Morgan is the #1 flanker. Obviously the team will roll out plenty of 3-WR sets, which means guys like Ginn and Jason Hill will see plenty of time on the field. Ginn would seem to have a lot more upside than Hill, but it also depends on the role expected from that third receiver.
In yesterday's media session, Jimmy Raye answered a couple of questions about Ginn:
On WR Ted Ginn's ability to limit the defense and his ability to stretch the field:
"You know, I hope so. I think the threat of that, the perception of that, is maybe even greater than the actual occurrence of that. His presence on the field demands that you have to make a decision about how many you want to commit to the run, from a coverage standpoint. So, there are some packages of things that he's involved in that give freedom to #85 [TE Vernon Davis] and #46 [TE Delanie Walker], and #15 [WR Michael Crabtree], so the threat of that as we try to find out a level ground of where his comfort is and where [QB] Alex [Smith] is comfortable with the packages that he is in. We certainly think, not only from a perception standpoint, but from an actuality standpoint, that he gives us something defensively that you have to figure out when he's on the field - how you want to defend that particular package in terms of the run/pass mix.
On how much Ginn has done and his progression from his trade to now:
"I had nothing to pre-judge him on because I wasn't there in Miami. Since he's been here, my vantage point, offensively, we're excited about him. Then he hit a plateau a little bit as a learning thing bogged him down with the new formations and the new systems, and then he's come into this training camp and today he has been outstanding. And if it continues to go, and continues to improve the way he is, I think we will be very pleased with him."
The most interesting line is the first one about the idea of the perception of the deep threat more than the actual occurrence of such plays. Obviously the threat is important, but you do need to make some connections on that deep pass to keep defenses honest. If Ginn can show he's got the hands to haul in some bombs, then the threat grows exponentially.
Jimmy Raye also mentioned a package that frees up Davis, Walker, and Crabtree. I'm curious to see what that would entail. I mean does that go 2 WRs out wide, 2 TEs on the line, and then Frank Gore in the backfield? Or do you split Davis and/or Walker out wide? I know we've discussed it before, but I remain perpetually excited about how easily Davis and Walker can create horrific mismatches for opposing defenses.
I've added a poll more to see what kind of confidence there is in Ginn as compared to Hill in that third receiver spot. I included the other receivers, but personally I think it will come down to those two. It should make for an interesting battle.