By Justin Bradford
Today we’ll focus on Wide Receivers and Tight Ends. The 49ers have two proven stars one potential star at WR. They will need some depth going forward, as WRs tend to suffer injuries frequently. The 49ers will also need another option at TE.
Current Roster: WR Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Mario Manningham, Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins, Marlon Moore, Chad Hall, Joe Hastings, Ricardo Lockette (reserve)
TE: Vernon Davis, Garrett Celek, Damarcus Dobbs (also a DT), Brian Jennings (long snapper)
Status: The 49ers value speed receivers above all else. However, they were missing the physical end zone presence during their Super Bowl loss to the Ravens. Boldin will fill that role in place of Randy Moss. Kyle Williams will likely be the 4th WR sharing rotational time with Jenkins and Manningham in the slot.
However, Williams projects to be the primary punt returner. Marlon Moore was a special teams standout for the Dolphins last season. He will likely compete for a roster spot with Hall, Hastings and Lockette. The 49ers could add another return specialist as insurance for an injury to Kyle Williams.
At Tight End, Davis is the only proven player. Celek and Dobbs are primarily used as blockers. Losing Delanie Walker means the 49ers will likely look to add a player who can compete to be Davis’ primary backup.
Possibilities: WR Brian Swope from Texas A&M (6’1” 206 lbs), Marquise Goodwin from Texas (5’9” 183 lbs), Denard Robinson from Michigan (5’11” 190 lbs).
Brian Swope will likely be drafted in the second or third round. He projects to be a Wes Welker/Danny Amendola type of slot receiver. The 49ers could value him as another long term receiver that has proved to be productive. Goodwin showed blazing speed at the combine, but didn’t perform well as a receiver. He is the type of player that really stretches the field opening up holes underneath.
He could easily cause trouble as a return specialist as well if coached properly. Robinson is the most intriguing prospect. The reason the 49ers could target him is his versatility. Jim Harbaugh loves multi-position players, and that defines Robinson. He was a dangerous runner as QB for Michigan, but showed some problems as a receiver at the combine. He will need some development, but his running vision could make him a threat as a return specialist and slot receiver down the road.
TE Zach Ertz from Stanford (6’5” 245 lbs), Vance McDonald from Rice (6’4” 267 lbs), Michael Williams from Alabama (6’5” 269)
The 49ers could go for a TE early in the draft with Ertz in the late first, early second round, or they could wait and grab value later. Since the team is comfortable with Davis long term, they will probably wait. McDonald is a good pick in the 3rd or 4th round, but will need some development.
His raw skills will appeal to the 49ers. A possible sleeper the 49ers could/should evaluate is Michael Williams. While his is a bit heavy for the position, he was a dangerous red zone target in college and a great blocker. His poor showing at the Senior Bowl and combine are the reason he fell so low. Williams could easily fill Delanie Walker’s spot as a blocker and add the receiving ability Walker lacked.