It’s no secret that the 49ers are struggling to find a viable option at wide receiver opposite Anquan Boldin. Kyle Williams, Jonathan Baldwin, Marlon Moore and rookie Quinton Patton (currently injured) have all tried their hand at being that guy but have failed miserably thus far. The group has 13 catches for 112 yards and no touchdowns through five games this season. Even with Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree slated to come back in the coming weeks, there is no guarantee either will be anywhere close to 100 percent.
Because of the team’s uncertainty and lack of production at the position, the 49ers may need to consider going outside of the organization for help. That is why the recent news of the team’s interest in Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver Josh Gordon is so intriguing. Here are five reasons why they 49ers should jump at the opportunity to sign Gordon.
There are just as many question marks at receiver next year
Boldin, Manningham, Moore and Williams are all unsigned past this season. The only receivers on the current roster that the team will have under contract going into 2014 are Crabtree, Patton, and Baldwin. Gordon is signed through 2015 and his cap hit is low for a starting wide out. He counts just under 1.5 million against the cap in 2014 and 1.7 million in 2015. He would be an affordable second option for the next two years and having a starter at that price could possibly help the team extend Crabtree.
No other receiver on the roster is like Gordon
Gordon is a big play threat that can make game changing catches down the field. That type of dynamic receiver would fit perfectly with the big arm of Colin Kaepernick and also allow Boldin to get favorable matchups underneath. Through the first 19 games of his career, Gordon is averaging 16.3 yards per catch and has scored seven touchdowns. The 49ers do not have another option like him on on their roster as the receivers they do have struggle to get any separation, let alone get open deep.
Kaepernick is struggling
Kaepernick has a quarterback rating of 108.5 when throwing Boldin’s way and a rating of 24.7 when throwing to other wide receivers. He looks hesitant in the pocket and it’s obvious he doesn’t trust his options beyond Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis. In acquiring Gordon, the 49ers would give Kaepernick another trustworthy option who can take the top off of a defense. It’s to the point where Kaepernick may be not only struggling between the lines, but also between his ears. Having a player at his disposal like Gordon could provide enough production on the outside to ease Kaepernick’s mind a little and help him get back to playing his game.
The team has the draft picks to make the deal
Because of the Alex Smith trade, the 49ers will have an additional second round pick if the Kansas City Chiefs finish 8-8. Considering they are already 5-0, that looks likely to happen. As stated above, the 49ers will have a major need a receiver in 2014. Why take a chance on an unproven rookie in the draft when you know what you’re getting in Gordon? The 49ers have not had a lot of success drafting wide outs of late (see Jenkins, A.J.) and using one of their second round picks in a trade for Gordon takes a lot of the guessing out of the equation.
Have to score to win
Can the 49ers makes the playoffs without a strong passing game? Absolutely. Given how well the defense is playing and taking into account that the running game is clicking on all cylinders, the team can certainly win enough games to earn a spot in the playoffs and maybe even win the NFC West. However, the reality of the situation is that the 49ers will have to score to have any chance at a return to the Super Bowl. In the NFC, high powered offenses like those found in Green Bay and New Orleans will await them. With the way they have played recently, it’s unlikely the 49ers could keep up with those teams (they are not same offense that beat the Packers in Week 1 right now) and certainly not and AFC squad like the Denver Broncos.
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