While I know that not everybody enjoys fantasy football like me, I do think we can use fantasy football in a sense to figure out some potentially key offensive players for the 49ers. So don't think of this as simply a suggestion of some intriguing fantasy options, but rather a look as well at important 49ers.
The 49ers offense will require performances from a variety of players to have success, but Delanie Walker and Kendall Hunter are two weapons under the radar on a national level that could really be keys to victory today. Both have shown impressive athleticism and are in position for different reasons to build on solid starts to the season.
I remain convinced that Delanie Walker is the one who will benefit the most from Joshua Morgan's leg injury. Or at least, the one who will benefit the most this week. While Braylon Edwards remains on the sideline, the team will be looking at Walker, Ted Ginn Jr. and Kyle Williams to pick up the slack in the receiving game, behind Vernon Davis Michael Crabtree that is.
I think Walker is the guy who gets the most looks this week from Alex Smith, at least among that Walker/Ginn/Williams group. The 49ers have no trouble going with two and three tight end sets. Add in the fact that Walker played wide receiver in college and he creates the potential for numerous mismatches. We'll see him on the line, but I also suspect we'll see plenty of him split out either in the slot or out wide.
Kendall Hunter is the other 49ers skill position player who could be in line for an important role against the Lions. Last Monday night, even in defeat, Matt Forte had a great day running to the outside of the Lions defensive line. While Frank Gore can still hit those outside runs, it seems to me that this kind of matchup is built for an explosive back like Kendall Hunter.
The issue of course is how much we actually see Hunter. After getting the start and a decent amount of carries against the Philadelphia Eagles, Hunter was limited to mop-up duty against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If the Bucs game had been close, would Hunter have seen the field as much as he did?
Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman have provided some excellent game-planning in recent weeks and it makes me think they can recognize the value of Hunter in this particular matchup. If he can get on the field, he could roll up some impressive numbers as both a rusher and pass catcher.
The 49ers have a variety of offensive weapons available and they may need every last one of them against a potentially explosive Detroit Lions squad. Maybe we get to see more of the under the radar guys get a crack at rolling up some impressive numbers.