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Kyle Shanahan Assesses 49ers Need at Wide Receiver

Posted Mar 1, 2018

The 49ers head coach explained his philosophy behind paying big money to wide receivers.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Much has been made about the San Francisco 49ers biggest roster needs this offseason – pass rusher, cornerback and interior offensive line are three of the most prevalent. But a stud wideout, especially a big target in the red zone, is also on the wish list of many fans.

Kyle Shanahan has proven that he’s capable of having success with or without a prototype receiver. Julio Jones helped Shanahan establish a juggernaut of an offense with the Atlanta Falcons. The problem is that there’s a vast difference between Jones and the majority of the NFL's big-bodied pass catchers.

The moral of the story is this. Should an elite wideout become available, the 49ers wouldn’t hesitate to break the bank. But the team also isn’t going to force the issue, either.

“There aren’t many (elite guys),” Shanahan began explaining his philosophy with receivers. “If there’s a Julio available and you have the opportunity to get him, you go get him. It’s worth it. Whatever the price is, whatever the draft pick is, go get him. There aren’t too many Julio’s on this planet. But you don’t have to have that to be successful. 

“Where people make mistakes is when they say, ‘We need a big tall red zone target like Julio,’ and then you go pay everyone else in the world who I can promise you isn’t Julio. Now you can’t go get a tight end. You can’t go get a guard. Yeah, you’ve got that big guy, but it’s got to be the right guy. … You don’t go, ‘Hey we need a big guy.’ No, we need good receivers. They come in all shapes and sizes.”

Shanahan's philosophy comes as no surprise. Former NFL wide receiver Andrew Hawkins was adament that his former head coach could win with out a tall wideout. As of right now, the 49ers starting receivers project to be a 6-foot No. 1 in Pierre Garçon, a 5-foot-9 burner in Marquise Goodwin and a shifty 5-foot-8 slot receiver in Trent Taylor.

Shanahan did make it clear that he’s been pleased with all three guys and that he’s eager to get Garçon back healthy. But he also said that the 49ers are looking to get better at every position bar quarterback and fullback.

“I would love to get better,” Shanahan said. "I would love to bring in (starting receivers). If we can bring in guys who beat out our starters, that means we’re bringing in some good guys.”

For what it’s worth, Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, Paul Richardson and Jordan Matthews are some of the top receivers who might hit the open market on March 14. Alabama's Calvin Ridley, Texas A&M's Christian Kirk and SMU's Courtland Sutton are a few of the top wideout prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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