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49ers wide receivers: Better, worse, or same in 2017?

A position by position look at the San Francisco 49ers’ roster, and whether the team is better, worse, or the same as the 2016 roster. Other positions: QB | RBWR | TEOT | OG | C | LB | CB | S

The San Francisco 49ers face a lot of questions surrounding their roster in 2017, with the new front office and coaching staff bringing numerous changes. It is going to take some time to figure out where this team stands. The team was incredibly active in free agency, and followed that with plenty of work in the 2017 NFL Draft.

With that in mind, I thought we would take a look at each position, compare it to various points last year, and consider whether the unit is better, worse, or the same compared to last year. The table includes the current group of players, and then a list of players on the 90-man roster for the first preseason game, the players on the Week 1 53-man roster, and the players on the Week 17 53-man roster. The idea is to compare this year with last year across the board. The roster changes from August to December, so I’m including three separate markers just to provide an overall view of the position last year.

We move on to the wide receiver position.

Wide receiver changes, 2016-to-2017

Current 2016 preseason 2016 - Week 1 2016 - Week 17
Current 2016 preseason 2016 - Week 1 2016 - Week 17
Pierre Garçon Torrey Smith Torrey Smith Jeremy Kerley
Marquise Goodwin Quinton Patton Quinton Patton Rod Streater
Jeremy Kerley Bruce Ellington Jeremy Kerley Chris Harper
Aldrick Robinson Jerome Simpson Rod Streater Aaron Burbridge
Trent Taylor Eric Rogers Aaron Burbridge DeAndre Smelter
Bruce Ellington DeAndre Smelter Chris Harper (PS) Mose Frazier (PS)
Aaron Burbridge Aaron Burbridge Dres Anderson (PS) DiAndre Campbell (PS)
DeAndre Smelter Dres Anderson Bruce Ellington (IR) Torrey Smith (IR)
Victor Bolden DeAndrew White Eric Rogers (IR) Quinton Patton (IR)
Kendrick Bourne DiAndre Campbell N/A Bruce Ellington (IR)
DeAndre Carter Bryce Treggs N/A Eric Rogers (IR)
BJ Johnson Devon Cajuste N/A N/A

The 49ers roster overhaul this offseason included plenty of changes at the wide receiver position. Jeremy Kerley signed a contract extension, but there is a very good chance every other receiver of note this season will not have been on the roster prior to this year’s draft or free agency.

Along with Kerley, Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, and Trent Taylor all seem like roster locks. Aldrick Robinson is not a lock, but his experience with Kyle Shanahan would suggest he has a strong shot at a roster spot. If that happens, that leaves no more than one spot on the wide receiver depth chart.

Bruce Ellington is the most notable returning receiver, but health has always been an issue with him. He had a big opportunity last season, only to see his year end in the preseason with a hamstring injury. He is back this year, but he competition at receiver and the returner roles.

DeAndre Smelter and Aaron Burbridge are the other two notable receivers returning from last year’s roster. Neither made a big impact, and time is running short for both. With UDFAs there to potentially make things interesting, Smelter and Burbridge have a lot to do in August if they want to have a chance at a roster spot.

Regardless of how that sixth spot shakes out, the 49ers wide receiver depth chart seems to be improved this year. There are plenty of questions for guys like Goodwin and Robinson, and we don’t know what to expect from Kerley after his breakout season of sorts last year. But Pierre Garçon is a big step forward in stability. That alone is an improvement, and there’s enough upside down the depth chart to at least make this group interesting.


Are the 49ers better, worse, or the same at WR in 2017 as compared to 2016?

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