Sports Out West

49ers Injury News: Door opened for Jonathan Baldwin

JON-BALDWIN

Quinton Patton has had an unfortunate start to his NFL career.

The rookie out of Louisiana Tech, who initially impressed head coach Jim Harbaugh with his eagerness, hasn’t been able to stay on the field long enough to gain any kind of momentum. Early in training camp, Patton broke his finger which caused him to miss all but the last two preseason games. He found himself buried on the depth chart initially, but had climbed ahead of Kyle Williams and Marlon Moore just in time to get his first professional start in Week 4 against the St. Louis Rams. It was in that game that he fractured his foot and is now expected to miss several weeks.

While the 49ers want to see what Patton can do on the field, his misfortune may be Jonathan Baldwin‘s gain. Baldwin has been behind the eight ball early on because of his late start with the team. He was not acquired until August when the Niners traded for him in a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. With the injury to Patton and the poor play of Williams and Moore, Baldwin may finally get his shot.

He saw his first action of the season in Week 4, and while he didn’t dominate by any means, Baldwin did make some contributions on offense. He caught two passes for 19 yards (which is the same amount of receptions Moore and Patton have combined all season) and showed he could possibly be someone who can make plays opposite Anquan Boldin. Harbaugh was happy with the effort and said he expectst to see more of Baldwin moving forward.

” (I) Feel like sometimes I’ve got an eye for a competitive heart. I see it with Jon,” said Harbaugh. “He made a couple tough catches. Handled it. There’ll be more action for him.”

Baldwin, who at 6’4 is a big target in the passing game, showed some flashes of being productive when with the Chiefs. In two seasons, he had 41 catches for 579 yards (13.9 yards per reception) and scored two touchdowns. He did have some issues with drops, however, which was the big knock on him coming into San Francisco. In 2011, Baldwin was targeted 52 times but only caught 21 passes. The following season (2012) he was targeted 47 times and only hauled in 20 of those balls.

While some of the blame for that has to go on Baldwin, he, like the rest of the Chiefs, also suffered through poor quarterback play. Consider that in his two years in Kansas City, the guys behind center were Matt Cassell, Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn, and Tyler Palko. Not exactly a murderer’s row. Now that he is working with Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick, it will be interesting to see if and how Baldwin will develop.

 Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson/USA Today

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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.

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