The San Francisco 49ers’ offense suffered a pair of big injuries this past Sunday, losing left tackle Joe Staley to an orbital fracture, and wide receiver Pierre Garçon to a neck injury. Staley’s injury will keep him out through the bye (and maybe a week or two after, TBD), while John Lynch announced on Thursday that Garçon is going on injured with his neck injury.
Garçon has been a rock for an offense that has struggled considerably. He has some of the best hands in the league, and his ability to toe-tap has been critical in some of the team’s close losses.
Losing Garçon leaves the 49ers wide receiver depth chart with a ton of questions. The group includes:
Victor Bolden Jr.
DeAndre Smelter (Practice Squad)
DeAndre Carter (Practice Squad)
The most likely scenario in Week 9 will have Goodwin and Robinson starting on the outside, and Taylor serving as the slot receiver. They could go with five receivers on the active roster, but promoting one of the DeAndre’s from the practice squad would not be entirely surprising.
The 49ers are in a very clear rebuilding pattern, and they will be playing this week and potentially next week with a lame-duck at quarterback. With all that in mind, is it worth shaking things up at wide receiver with Garçon sidelined? Goodwin and Robinson are the safe plays outside. They both struggle with drops, but have made some big plays at times. They’re not great, but they’re safe plays.
On the other hand, what about getting Bourne and Bolden more playing time this weekend? Bourne has been active the past two weeks, and gotten 35 and 36 percent of the snaps, respectively. It’s good to see him getting some work, but if they think he has some potential, why not give him more work?
Robinson can be a decent option, but he does not seem like a guy for the long term with a ton of potential. He’ll be productive, but given the current state of the 49ers, how much is to be gained by playing it safe? The transition to Jimmy Garoppolo will raise plenty of issues with the kind of support around him, and I do think there is an argument to be made about playing it a little bit safer when Garoppolo moves into the lineup. But if this is about the future, I wouldn’t mind seeing Bourne and Bolden get more opportunities.