Receiver ranks low on list of 49ers’ draft priorities

On the 49ers’ list of priorities for the first round of the upcoming draft, wide receiver ranks among bottom of positions the club is looking to fill.


The 49ers spent the No. 10 overall pick on a wideout in last year’s draft. Investing first-round picks in consecutive years is generally not considered a recipe for success. (Exhibit A: Detroit Lions, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007).

In Part 2 of answering questions subjected via Twitter (I like that 140-character maximum guarantees concise queries), we touch on the subjects of receiver and offensive line.


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Q: are the 49ers satisfied with Josh Morgan as the No. 2 or are they looking for a good possession/slot receiver, ie Eric Decker? (newtwong)

MM: The 49ers are very happy with Morgan as the No. 2 man. He appears to be a good counterbalance to Michael Crabtree, who’s expected to be the team’s top wideout for a long time – at least through the remaining five years of his contract.


It’s surprising to anyone who’s been around the 49ers that Morgan’s stock fell leading up to the 2008 draft because of so-called “character concerns” from his time at Virginia Tech. He has been great in the locker room, and a tremendous team player.


Morgan has worked hard and continued to show steady improvement in his two NFL seasons. (He caught 28 of his 52 passes in the final six games of last season.) And he’s made a commitment to help the team any way possible – whether it’s with his blocking or his tutoring of teammates. Remember, Morgan remained at the team facility during the bye week last year for the sole purpose of helping Crabtree take his starting job.


As it turned out, the 49ers rewarded Morgan by switching him to flanker and benching veteran Isaac Bruce.


Are the 49ers happy with Morgan? One high-ranking team official told me they envision Morgan being John Taylor to Crabtree’s Jerry Rice (of course, on a smaller scale). But there appears to be no thinking that the 49ers must find a player to supplant Morgan in the starting lineup.


If the 49ers add a receiver, I’d fully expect that player to make a contribution in the return game as a rookie.


Q: If we pick up a wideout early in the draft for return duties and also plays slot what happens to Brandon Jones ? (Breezy912)

MM: I don’t envision the 49ers picking up a receiver in the first round. But they could grab a player, such as Mardy Gilyard or versatile Dexter McCluster in the second or third rounds.


Then what happens?


If they get a receiver/return man, that player must be active on game days. The 49ers then must decide whether to activate four receivers, plus the return man, or four wideouts, including the player to handle return duties.


Right now, Crabtree and Morgan are the starters. Jason Hill and Jones are competing for the No. 3 job. Jones needs to have a good offseason and training camp. He looked good in the first couple days of camp a year ago until he dove for a pass in the end zone and broken his shoulder blade.


Jones grew frustrated during the season as he rarely got on the field. He caught only one pass, but it was a doozy. He made a leaping grab of a pass thrown behind him against the Seahawks late in the season.


Q: how probable is it that the 9ers don’t draft an OG and bank on Baas and a FA this season? (TheRealOsCruz)

MM: It is possible, though the 49ers obviously want to add help along the line in the draft. Baas has been tendered as a restricted free agent. Of the interior linemen, he has the most at stake this season.


The 49ers have entertained free-agent guard Chester Pitts, who is coming off a serious knee injury. Pitts is rehabbing and positioning himself to pass a physical. I’d expect Pitts to sign after the draft when he can choose the best situation of his remaining suitors.


Q: Do the Niners like Iupat as a guard or tackle? I personally don’t trust converting a G from Idaho to an NFL RT. (AFNinerFan)

MM: I think they see him as a guard, which diminishes his value to the club. But, if the 49ers have him rated as a dominant guard, I see now reason why they should not hesitate to take him with the 17th overall pick. I’m just not sure that’s going to happen, though.


Q: So many of the current returners are late-round finds, why not sign Flozell Adams and just take the best player available? (mrmessyjesse)

MM: Because Adams turns 35 in May, and his play fell off so much this past season that the Cowboys cut ties with their starting left tackle after he held that role since 1999. The 49ers have already signed Barry Sims to serve as a backup at both tackle positions. At this stage in their careers, Joe Staley is a better left tackle than Adams. And, moreover, Staley should have a long career ahead of him. I don’t see how signing Adams makes the 49ers a better team.


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