Lotsa intrigue with deepest WR group in club history

It’s not the best group of receivers the 49ers have ever assembled. Obviously, Rice and Taylor trumps all. But this is the deepest the 49ers have ever been at wideout. (And if you don’t believe me, try to name seven better receivers who have been on the roster at the same time.)

The 49ers have seven good receivers. Included on that list is one veteran (Isaac Bruce) who not long ago was genuinely great, and a couple younger receivers (Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan) with chances to be very, very good in the near future.


When I solicited some questions last night, it was the receiver group that people most wanted to hear about.


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Questions: Which 49ers WR looks to be on the outside looking in? (Ryan)

What is your prediction of the 49ers Depth Chart at WR? (Don)

Do you see Arnaz Battle making the team? (Patrick)

I’d love to hear your prediction on how the WR situation will play out. (Marc)

Who has the better year — Josh Morgan or Isaac Bruce? (Trevor)


Answers: Several days ago, somebody emailed me asking which 49ers player is most apt to have a “breakout” season. My answer was Josh Morgan. It makes a lot of sense that the team is giving him action at flanker or the “Z” position during the offseason program. He played split end or “X” as a rookie. Now, he can play anywhere he’s most needed.


The 49ers have really good depth at receiver, and it has been needed for these offseason workouts.


Reclusive veteran Isaac Bruce shows up only when he’s contractually obligated. (At least the club does not have to pay him his $25,000 workout bonus.) Michael Crabtree is on a schedule in which he will not practice with his teammates until the first day of training camp. Arnaz Battle continues to rehab a foot injury that forced him out of the final half of last season. And Jason Hill has missed a couple weeks with a hamstring pull.


I’ve always been of the opinion that Battle is a darn good player. Hill took his spot in the second half of last season and did a really nice job when Battle was injured. But Hill has experienced his share of injuries in his short career, too. That is why the club signed Brandon Jones, making him the club’s second-highest paid receiver (behind the contract Crabtree will receiver as the No. 10 overall pick). The coaches probably prefer Battle and Hill over Jones, but Jones has looked good in workouts and you know he is going to be on the team this season.


Battle and Bruce are in the final year of their contracts. I do not expect either to be on the club in 2010. Battle‘s spot is vulnerable. Bruce, I’m sure, will be on the team. But the 49ers owe it to themselves to put the best guys on the field. At some point real soon, it would not surprise me if Bruce is no longer one of the team’s best two receivers. (I think Morgan will have the better year.)


This is difficult, but here is my – all things considered – list of where the 49ers receivers stand right now: Morgan, Bruce, Crabtree, Jones, Hill, Battle and Zeigler. The reason I put Zeigler at No. 7 is mostly because he’s the only one of that group that is a) eligible for the practice squad, and b) might actually not get claimed if he’s waived. The reason Crabtree is No. 3 is because nobody has seen him run a route and catch a pass.


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Later, I’ll answer some of the other questions.


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