It is not a simple task ranking out the many position battles the San Francisco 49ers will sort through in 2015 training camp. Whether we're talking talking wide receivers, cornerbacks, defensive line, running backs, or offensive line, there is importance across the board. And so, instead of ranking them, we're just going to go through them one at a time. Today, we start with the wide receiver position.
The 49ers will be starting Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith at wide receiver. Barring something we will not discuss here, those two will be getting a whole lot of playing time. The question is who will be getting the work behind them. Vernon Davis and Reggie Bush will potentially be key cogs in the passing game, but that third wide receiver role could prove to be a huge deal as the 49ers look to add some octane to the offense.
Participants: Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington, Jerome Simpson, Chuck Jacobs, DeAndrew White, Dres Anderson, Issac Blakeney, DiAndre Campbell, Mario Hull, DeAndre Smelter (starting camp on NFI list)
This is quite the mix of veteran and young talent. Chuck Jacobs enters his third year with the team, coming off a lost season due to an ACL tear. White and Anderson are coming off minicamps in which they got rave reviews from media in attendance. However, it was shorts and jerseys, no pads. Ronald Curry referenced White's strong performance during the program, and said he still has to prove he can carry it over to the padded practices.
Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington and Jerome Simpson would seem to be the favorites to take advantage of the opening behind Boldin and Smith. Each player brings a little something different to the competition. Simpson is a more traditional deep threat. Ellington continues to strike me as a Percy Harvin type of player who can be utilized as everything from a deep threat to a running back. Patton is a more traditional receiver with solid size and hands.
Prediction: A lot of people will lean toward Quinton Patton, but that very well could just be a matter of me hoping more than expecting. Simpson brings a strong speed game, and looked good in the offseason workout program, according to reports. He is coming off a lost year, but if his speed is anywhere near what it was, his veteran status could provide some value for him.
However, I will go with Bruce Ellington as the guy to emerge behind Boldin and Smith. He is the most intriguing of the group because his versatility offers a lot of options. I don't think he will be a traditional third receiver, but assuming he stays healthy, Ellington is the guy who could create a variety of mismatches. Health is going to be a concern, and if he cannot remain healthy, I think Patton could be the guy to emerge. And of course, the 49ers could work both guys in on a fairly regular basis given their distinctively different skill sets.