Sports Out West

49ers wide receiver picture starting to come into focus

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With the drama and uncertainty that surrounded A.J. Jenkins and his place on the San Francisco 49ers no longer at the forefront, the picture at wide receiver may start to become a little clearer. The Niners will most likely carry six wide outs this season. Here is a guess at what the final roster will look like.

Anquan Boldin

It goes without saying that Boldin will be the number one receiver for the 49ers in 2013. Even if Michael Crabtree does return at some point, he may not be at 100 percent as he works his way back from injury. Boldin is not the 100 catch a season monster he once was, but he can still produce at a high level. There was some talk of him failing to get separation at times during his three-year stint with the Baltimore Ravens, but even if that is the case, Colin Kaepernick does not shy away from putting the ball in tight spots. He’ll be a great fit with the 49ers and an excellent mentor to the other wide receivers.

Kyle Williams

At this point, if healthy, Williams might be the favorite to start opposite Boldin. Williams is practicing again with the team but it’s unknown when he’ll suit up as he works his way back from an ACL injury. Head coach Jim Harbaugh, who said that Williams is a known commodity, will make the call as to when the receiver will play in a game.

Williams is best known for his two costly fumbles on punt returns in the 2011 NFC Championship but that shouldn’t define what he can bring to the 49ers. He’s made plays in limited action over the past two years, hauling in 35 catches for 461 yards and four touchdowns. Given the circumstances, he may be able to match those numbers this season. Williams could be in for a breakout campaign.

Quinton Patton

The rookie from Louisiana Tech has yet to make his 49ers’ debut because of a broken finger but has been fully cleared and should suit up for the team’s third preseason game. Patton has impressed thus far with his eagerness and dedication and the arrow is pointing up for him in San Francisco. It’s unknown how he will fare or how much playing time he’ll get in his rookie campaign (the injury certainly didn’t help) but he’s a lock to make the 53 man roster as the 49ers undoubtedly see him as a big part of their future.

Jonathan Baldwin

Baldwin comes to San Francisco after two disappointing years with the Kansas City Chiefs in which the former first-round pick failed to make an impact. Over his first two seasons, Baldwin caught 41 passes for 579 yards and two touchdowns. While Baldwin certainly carries the brunt of the responsibility for that, he also didvnot have the best quarterbacks throwing to him. The Chiefs had a revolving door behind center with Matt Cassel, Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn and Tyler Palko all starting games during Baldwin’s short tenure with the team.

As Baldwin enters his third season, the 49ers see promise. At 6’4 he has a large frame and is the kind of physical player the team likes. NFL films Greg Cosell compared him to Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Vincent Jackson because of his size and the fact that he moves well. A change of scenery could be just what Baldwin needs and his affordable contract makes him easy to stash on the roster. His 2013 salary of 1.061 million is fully guaranteed but his scheduled 2014 salary of 1.274 million will only be paid out if he is on the team.

Marlon Moore

When the 49ers signed Moore to a one-year deal, it almost seemed like an after thought.

In three seasons with the Dolphins, Moore had played in 29 games but only had two starts. Inking Moore seemed to have everything to do with special teams and little to do with actually getting snaps with the first team offense. That’s why it’s been a shock to see Moore line up with the starters in the first two preseason games.

Moore, like the rest of the starting offense, hasn’t played much in the actual games, but he’s apparently showed enough in practice to warrant his place on the roster. The lack of snaps in games could be seen as a good sign, as the 49ers are giving the impression they already know what the have in Moore. It’s a bit curious, however, given the small sample size and the fact that he only has 12 career receptions. It will interesting to see what Moore’s role will be when the season starts, but he is all but assured a roster spot a this point.

Austin Collie

While Collie does not bring much in the way of special teams, he may be too intriguing an option to keep off the roster. When healthy in Indianapolis, Collie put good numbers with the Colts. His best season, although cut short by injury, was in 2010 when he had 58 receptions for 649 yards and eight touchdowns in only nine games. Collie is a bit of a work in progress as he is still getting acclimated to the 49ers scheme. It should be telling how much action (if any) he’ll get with the starters as they play more snaps in the third preseason game.

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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Al Sacco

Al Sacco is sports expert who knows football, baseball, basketball and hockey. He has spent his time as a sports journalist covering the San Francisco 49ers as a staff writer for 49erswebzone.com and 49ersgab.com. He is also a contributor to Yahoo! Voices and has had his work used on ESPN NFL Insiders.