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Speculating On Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss Roles

This is just speculation at this point, but it makes some measure of sense for Michael Crabtree to handle the flanker role. Crabtree was featured in that role last season and will get a chance to build on that in 2012. Mario Manningham would seem likely to spend much of his time in the slot when the team goes to three receivers.

The question is what happens with the rest of the wide receivers given the increased depth at the position. Conceivably we're talking about guys like A.J. Jenkins, Kyle Williams and Ted Ginn battling for some semblance of playing time. There have been a lot of projections of only keeping five wide receivers, but after last season's injury issues at wide receiver, I still think the team goes six deep at the position.

Of the remaining three, Ginn is the easiest one to sort out. Although the team might use him on occasion, when everybody else is healthy, I would tend to think Ginn spends most of his time as a return specialist. I could see the 49ers using him in some reverses and screens to get the ball in his hands quickly and injuries could open the door for more playing time for him. Otherwise, he remains near the bottom of the wide receiver depth chart.

You could argue it then becomes a battle between Jenkins and Williams for playing time as the fourth receiver. I can't imagine any circumstance in which the 49ers go five wide receivers on the field at the same time. They may go five wide here and there, but Vernon Davis and/or Delanie Walker will be in the mix in such a situation.

Instead, having Jenkins and Williams provides a chance to mix and match players and get rest across the board. The 49ers have the opportunity to get creative and keep teams on their toes when it comes to the passing game. Whether it proves successful remains to be seen, but it will be interesting to watch how this plays out.