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A Breakdown of the Niners Wide receivers/tight ends

Wide Receiver

Likely starters: Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson

Stiffest competition: Ashley Lelie, Arnaz Battle, Jason Hill

Insurance: Jerard Rabb, Dominique Zeigler

Analysis: Uggghh. Remember the days of John Taylor and Jerry Rice, followed by Rice and Terrell Owens? The Niners used to be notorious for drafting the big, physical receiver, a byproduct of Bill Walsh’s insistence on big receiving targets.

Johnson, physically, fits the mold of the old Niners receivers, but he is really a No. 2 receiver (Bruce is targeted as the No. 1)? He actually has decent numbers for the five years he has played in the NFL (all with the Arizona Cardinals): 210 catches (average of 42 per year), 2,675 yards (avg. 535) and nine touchdowns (avg. of 2). If he plays well in training camp, he can definitely secure the No. 2 spot. If he struggles, assuming nobody else steps up, the first receiver the Niners take in the draft will probably get an opportunity to claim a starters spot.

Bruce is all but set as the No. 1. He has experience as a former No. 1 and he has plenty of experience playing for Mike Martz in their time with St. Louis.

As for the rest, well, this is why the Niners need to target a wide receiver, as early as the first round. Lelie has oodles of talent, but he’s about as tough as a noodle. Battle is a role player, a good special teamer. Hill can run fast…that’s it. Rabb and Zeigler are unknown commodities.

This team needs a receiver for Alex Smith. Limas Sweed is a big, physical receiver, but DeSean Jackson might fit better in Martz’s offense. He’s fast, shifty, whatever you want to call him. But Martz can gameplan for a receiver with Jackson’s athleticism. You just worry about HIS toughness, whether he can cope with the physical pounding that receivers receive.

Whether it’s Sweed, Jackson or someone else, the Niners need to strongly look at the position in the first or second round.

Tight End

Likely Starter: Vernon Davis

Stiffest competition: Delanie Walker

Insurance: Billy Bajema, Brian Jennings

Analysis: If Mike Martz wasn’t the offensive coordinator, I would say “Draft a freaking tight end!” Vernon Davis has glorious athleticism, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing when athletic ability is the greatest thing to say about a player. What about production? Davis could produce more if he could stay on the field. He missed six games his rookie year with an injury and two more last year. He did get his production on the right course, though (52 catches, 509 yards, four touchdowns last year), but he needs to stay on the field. Davis is the best receiving target for Alex Smith.

The rest of the guys are just bodies. Walker had 21 catches last season as a fill-in for Davis. Martz hates using tight ends, though, so don’t expect any picks.



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  2. faccipazzo

    June 11, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    the 9ers are better set up with what they’ve got. The problem is in getting the right combination on the field of play at the right time with their new pass catching routes, In Bruce, Hill, and Lelie you have down field speed. In Johnson, and Battle you have good possession receivers. So a four receiver set of Isaac Bruce, Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Ashley Lelie to spread the field

  3. faccipazzo

    June 19, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Dalanie Walker and Vernon Davis are going to become part of a hybrid TE*H-back system, with an old Charger TE Kellen Winslow twist on it, five yard gap away from the OT., for easy release.

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