Just a short while ago, the San Francisco 49ers didn’t possess a pass-catching corps that earned the respect of defensive backs. Fast forward two full offseasons, John Lynch and Co. have filled the cupboard with the proper combination of young and veteran playmakers to thrive in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
The narrative around the wide receiver room has shifted so significantly, that second-year CB Ahkello Witherspoon had a tough time choosing the toughest player to cover. Asked about it on Friday after the 49ers’ second training camp practice, Witherspoon took a second to answer, before choosing his nightmare matchup.
Reporter: Who’s the toughest receiver to cover on this team?
Witherspoon: Ummm, I’d say [WR] Marquise Goodwin.
Reporter: Because of the speed?
Witherspoon: Yeah, speed and I feel like he’s underestimated as a route runner, as well. Very intricate routes, detailed routes and combining with speed that threatens you. You have to respect it and it makes his game that complete.
Is there truth to what Witherspoon is saying? The top receivers on the 49ers are Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor. Of that group, Garçon is the most accomplished, polished route runner and physically, the toughest. Taylor is the quickest and has a nifty route tree that allows him to find holes in the defense.
Goodwin likely possesses some of the best skills of both receivers. The ex-Bills’ receiver ran a 4.27-second 40-yard dash in 2013, so his top end speed would blow by any defensive back.
As Witherspoon elaborates, Goodwin’s polished route-running skills were on display during the first day of training camp, as he caught four passes from QB Jimmy Garappolo, including two deep balls.
In 2017, Goodwin led all 49ers’ receivers in total yards, yards per reception, catches over 20 yards and the number of receiving first downs. With a full offseason with Garappolo, the G-squared connection can only grow in 2018.
If the Texas’ product numbers continue to rise this season, Witherspoon’s statement will only prove to be true. Who do you all think is the 49ers’ toughest cover on the field?