The San Francisco 49ers wide receiver position appears to look top heavy from the start. Their back end of the depth chart remains uncertain, which is what training camp and preseason will decide.
Gone are Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd, where the 49ers had several wideouts of a similar skill set. Anquan Boldin, Crabtree and Johnson were all good receivers, but only worked well in the short and intermediate passing game.
This unit will have fresh faces as well as some young players hoping to prove something this year. There is plenty of competition where everything will play itself out.
Wide Receivers: Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Jerome Simpson, Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington, DeAndre Smelter (NFI), Chuck Jacobs, Dres Anderson, Issac Blakeney, DiAndre Campbell, Mario Hull, DeAndrew White
Boldin and Smith are guaranteed to be the top two receivers on the team. They are reunited for the first time since 2012, where both of them excelled with the Baltimore Ravens and won a Super Bowl together.
Smith brings a deep threat that the 49ers were lacking last season. Lloyd was the only receiver who could stretch the field, but was only good for a handful of snaps. Vernon Davis would also be a deep threat in the past, but battled injuries and wasn’t completely healthy in 2014.
With Smith taking the top of the coverage away, Boldin should have even more opportunities in the short game as he was already a favorite target of Colin Kaepernick. He had 1,062 receiving yards and would be a go-to guy along with Johnson last season.
Jerome Simpson would be the favorite to take the slot WR spot with his experience and speed. He had off the field issues, but when on the field he can be a perfect fit.
General Manager Trent Baalke has made several low risk moves on character concerned players including drafting Aaron Lynch as well as signing Perrish Cox and Chris Cook. Simpson would be another deep threat to complement Smith in the passing game and is better than the rest on the depth chart.
Bruce Ellington and Quinton Patton were fourth round draft picks in 2014 and 2013, respectively. Both have made minimal impact with Patton being benched and buried behind several other wide receivers. Patton is remembered for one catch that decided a game at the end of 2013 giving the 49ers a win.
Meanwhile, Ellington was used on special teams, but seldom on offense by previous offensive coordinator Greg Roman. They tried using him for reverses and the open field, but was underwhelming in his rookie season.
With DeAndre Smelter most likely sitting out the 2015 season, it opens the door for a possible sixth wide receiver to make the team. Undrafted rookies DeAndrew White and Dres Anderson had the best minicamp of the bunch and if one of them impresses on special teams, they could be on the 53-man roster.
The top of the 49ers WR unit is locked in, but it will be interesting to see how competition will play itself out when preseason and training camp are over.