The San Francisco 49ers had a bad, bad, bad wide receiver corps a few years back. It took three drafts, but the unit has been overhauled to at least be respectable. In 2019, the 49ers grabbed Jordan Matthews in free agency and then snagged Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd in the draft. They go with what already is some promising talent in Trent Taylor, Richie James, and Kendrick Bourne. Then there’s Marquise Goodwin coming back from injuries and personal issues. Oh and there’s Dante Pettis...and...and...
The 49ers can’t keep all these guys.
In 2017 and 2018 the 49ers rolled with six wide receivers to start the season. 2018, in particular, had some tough decisions to be made on what to do with the pass-catching unit. 2019 will be some of the toughest yet with the rookies needing playing time and some dependable assets like Bourne clawing to hold onto a spot.
That’s where the whole point of this post comes on. it wouldn’t be surprising at all if the 49ers elected to keep seven wide receivers on the roster. Could they keep eight? That’s something crazy, but don’t rule it out. Seven seems closer to the realm of possibility. The 49ers are trying to set things up for a “positionless” offense which makes it more believable they’d go this direction.
Herein lies the problem: if the 49ers go with seven (or...uh...eight?) wide receivers another position has to get gutted to be in the 53-man requirements. So the question is, which position would you make budget cuts of sorts to fill this need of wide receivers?
If I’m looking at the roster and making decisions the position I’d look to is a linebacker. I expressed this in my 90-in-90 of Mark Nzeocha. Does it cut the position thin? Yes, but there’s less developmental prospects the 49ers would miss later on (cutting Malcolm Smith to keep Richie James developing would make sense). This would have the 49ers rolling the dice with five linebackers on the roster.
One thing is sure, I wouldn’t want to be in that room when the decisions are made on which wide receiver the 49ers want to keep around. There’s been some good stuff coming out of OTAs already with Trent Taylor and Dante Pettis. The decisions on who to keep will not be easy.
So you’re the 49ers, you have decided to keep seven wide receivers. What position do you trim to make it happen?