The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers will open training camp at the end of the month. But before the pads come on and the competition for 53 coveted roster spots begin, 49ers.com will preview the storylines to track for each position group on the team. San Francisco's emerging group of wide receivers comes into focus next in our "49ers Camp Preview" series.
Michael Crabtree proved to be one of the best receivers in the National Football League in 2012. Crabtree set career-highs in receptions (85), receiving yards (1,105) and touchdowns (9). More importantly, he was a lethal first-down converting machine when the 49ers faced third down scenarios. Crabtree, however, will be out of the lineup for the foreseeable future. The No. 1 wideout suffered a torn Achilles during Organized Team Activities and has recently tweeted that he's just started working out to begin his rehab process. Crabtree was sidelined along with Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams for the better part of the offseason. Both veteran wideouts suffered season-ending injuries in 2012 and spent the offseason rehabbing their knee injuries.
Manningham began sprinting and cutting on his injured knee but is scheduled behind Williams in the rehab process. Williams was injured before Manningham and was able to participate in individual drills during the team's mandatory minicamp. Both wideouts will be counted on for downfield production in the regular season, but until they return to full strength, the 49ers will depend on a veteran target acquired in an offseason trade.
Enter 11-year veteran Anquan Boldin. The former rival who excelled in Super Bowl XLVII joined the 49ers in March after San Francisco and Baltimore made a trade that brought the possession receiver to the Bay Area. Boldin, 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, is a three-time Pro Bowler caught 22 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns in the 2012 postseason. Boldin's experience was a positive development for San Francisco's banged up receiving corps. The 32-year-old wideout mentored the young receivers on the team throughout the offseason and was a consistent attendee of the team's offseason program. Boldin dominated during OTAs and showed enough in minicamp that the coaching staff held him out of action on the final day to evaluate the young wideouts on San Francisco's roster.
RETURNERS: Michael Crabtree (fifth season), Mario Manningham (sixth season), Kyle Williams (fourth season), Chad Hall (third season), A.J. Jenkins (second season), Ricardo Lockette (2012 practice squad). NEWCOMERS: Anquan Boldin (11th season, acquired via trade), Kassim Osgood (11th season, free agent), Marlon Moore (fourth season, free agent), Quinton Patton (fourth-round pick, Louisiana Tech) and Chuck Jacobs (undrafted, Utah State).
With Crabtree on the mend, Boldin's tenacity and years of experience will be counted on heavily in 2013. Behind Boldin and established receivers Manningham and Williams, the 49ers are looking for a young wideout to emerge in the upcoming season. Second-year wideout A.J. Jenkins continued to show flashes of brilliance in his first full offseason with the 49ers. The former first-round pick turned in highlight-worthy receptions in each minicamp session. In addition, rookie wideout Quinton Patton displayed the play-making ability that made him a fourth-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft. Ricardo Lockette, Chad Hall, Marlon Moore, Kassim Osgood and Chuck Jacobs all turned in impressive receptions in the offseason. As it currently stands, the 49ers have viable candidates to push for a bigger role in 2013.
Colin Kaepernick completed 21, 25-plus yard passes in the regular season, good for second in the NFL since the time he took over the 49ers starting quarterback role.
"We're excited for the young receivers that we have. Really feel that somebody's going to emerge there because they have to. And competition will create that. We'll look forward to watching that."
-Jim Harbaugh after the announcement of Crabtree's offseason injury.
- READ: Crabtree Anticipated to Return
- READ: Boldin Steps Up
- READ: Manningham Starts Running
- READ: Williams Makes Progress
- READ: Patton on 49ers OTAs
- READ: Jenkins Seizes Opportunity
- READ: Osgood is a Quick Study
- READ: Rookie Report with Chuck Jacobs
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