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What happens to the offense with a viable third wide receiver

I pose a question that I've been thinking about recently for discussion.

Al Messerschmidt

I want to pose a simple question for discussion today: how much impact do you think a viable third WR would have on this offense and how it is called?

I don't mean Quinton Patton (yet). I like his hands and work ethic, but thus far he hasn't done enough in game to make me think that he will be a consistent third WR on this team. He has what appears to be a lot of potential. But, he has also appeared in six games, catching the ball only three times for 34 yards.

And part of this isn't his fault. Obviously he had an unfortunate injury that slowed down his rookie season. But, he also plays on an offense that loves heavy formations featuring multiple TEs, FBs, and offensive line personnel. It's pretty rare that he will see the field for a consistent amount of time, I think.

And that's the point of the question for today. Do you think that Jim Harbaugh et al. would change their offensive philosophy with the addition of another WR that can break 500 yards in a season? 600? 700?

Yesterday, Alex Carson had an excellent discussion of the 49ers' dynamic duo at wide receiver. Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin have the potential to be one of the best duos in the league this season. I really think that both receivers, though similar, complement each other quite well. With the addition of Vernon Davis, the 49ers have a strong core of receiving threats. And, these threats can make plays out of heavy formations. In that regard, there seems to be no need to change the formations too much.

However, to advocate for the opposing side of this discussion, Frank Gore is slowing down and we aren't sure what sort of shape the backfield is going to be in behind him. The depth is impressive; I do think we have one of the better stables of RBs in the league. But, if the 49ers don't want Gore to run as much this season and if they aren't as confident in the backups as I am, the easiest way around the problem might just be a slight tweaking of the offensive philosophy.

Coach Harbaugh discussed this a couple weeks ago, so I'll redirect you here to see his comments. And, we had some good discussion on related WR topics then. But, I think the question still remains: how much tweaking would occur and what might it look like?