The San Francisco 49ers entered training camp with their top two wide receivers locked in. Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith top the depth chart, and there is no doubt about that as we head into the second preseason game. The competition at wide receiver behind them includes Quinton Patton, DeAndrew White, Bruce Ellington and Jerome Simpson. Ellington is dealing with a muscle strain, and Simpson will open the regular season on the suspended list.
That has led to a couple of interesting articles regarding the third option in the passing game. Bay Area Sports Guy went into some detail discussing Reggie Bush as a potential option, while Grant Cohn suggested Vernon Davis was the guy who could be that third pass catcher.
BASG discussed the reports about the team looking at a lot of short throws to tight ends and running backs, and discussed the potential to split Bush wide. The practice reports when Bush has been on the field have featured a lot of chatter about his involvement in the passing game. Given the potential questions about the 49ers offensive line, getting the short passing game further developed makes a lot of sense. Torrey Smith is a great deep threat, but if Kap does not have enough time to get the pass off, Smith holds less value. But developing the short passing game could help the line, and thus create more time for Smith to get deep.
Cohn on the other hand looked at what he has seen in practice, discussing how in reality, Vernon Davis has been the top receiving option in camp. He said it was Davis, then Carlos Hyde, then Anquan Boldin. Training camp performance is certainly something that needs to be taken with a bit of a grain of salt, but if Vernon is healthy, we'll find out quickly if he has that extra gear, or if he is indeed on the downside of his career.
Matt Barrows reported earlier this week that the 49ers are giving Quinton Patton plenty of opportunities to nail down that third wide receiver role. However, third wide receiver does not mean the No. 3 pass catcher. Bush or Davis seem the strongest candidates for that. If I had to guess, I could see Anquan Boldin leading the team in receptions, with Reggie Bush second, and some combination of Torrey Smith and Vernon Davis third and fourth. Smith would lead the team in yards per catch, but I think we see more passes going Bush and/or Davis's way in 2015.