Best of the NFC West: Wide Receivers

Also see our previous posts of NFC West quarterbacks and running backs.

Niner Noise along with, and are currently working to come up with the best NFC West players, an “NFC West All-Star Team” if you will.

Today we look at the wide receivers:

Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald

You can look at the loss of Kurt Warner (retirement) and Anquan Boldin (traded to the Ravens) one of two ways: 1. Fitzgerald will get more targets with the loss of Boldin and with the emerging running dual of Beanie Wells/Tim Hightower will open up the secondary. or 2. Fitzgerald’s production will drop because the secondary will only need to focus on him and with Matt Leinart’s suspect accuracy it will be hard to get Fitz the football.  While success this season will be harder for Fitzgerald there is no denying the phenomenal player he has become.  Fitzgerald will still get at least ten touchdowns and hit the mark of 90 receptions and over 1,000 receiving yards but it will harder than previous seasons with Warner and Boldin gone.

Arizona Cardinals: Steve Breaston

Breaston had a breakout year in 2008 with 77 receptions, 1,006 receiving yards and three touchdowns.  Most of his stats came as he filled in for injured starter Anquan Boldin.  Although still impressive Breaston last season regressed in his numbers (55 receptions, 712 receiving yards and three touchdowns) but progressed as a wide receiver all while being number three on the depth chart.  If anything Cardinal fans can look to 2008 to get a glimpse of how he will play starting at wide receiver.  However like Fitzgerald his success all comes down to how effective the running game will be and how Matt Leinart develops into his role as a full time starter.

San Francisco 49ers: Michael Crabtree

The focal point of training camp for Michael Crabtree last season was pay me.  With Crabtree under contract the focal point of this seasons training camp will be his development in reading defenses and developing a relationship with quarterback Alex Smith in which both know what each other are thinking on any given play.  In the 11 games he did play in last season he put up some good numbers: 48 receptions, 625 receiving yards and two touchdowns.  Crabtree should have good numbers this season but in order for him to become an All-Pro a lot rests in the hands of Alex Smith, Vernon Davis, Josh Morgan, Frank Gore and the offensive line.

Seattle Seahawks: T.J. Houshmandzadeh

When you look at Houshmandzadeh’s numbers last season they are notable.  However when you compare his numbers to his previous three seasons with the Bengals and the big contract he signed with the Seahawks in 2009 is when his numbers look like he regressed.  Housh is still a great wide receiver and his lack of production last season had to do with injuries to quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the lack of other weapons on offense like he had in Cincinnati.  But this is when great players step up and show they can lead a team regardless of who is around them.

Seattle Seahawks: Deion Branch

Branch can be relied on as a second receiver but with his recent knee injuries and declining production he is best suited as a third string receiver. He can still catch the football as he has averaged around 44 receptions since he joined the Seahawks in 2006 but he is not a target in the end-zone.

St. Louis Rams: Donnie Avery

With Avery’s speed he is always a threat to score.  He had a breakout rookie season in 2008 with 53 receptions for 674 yards and three touchdowns.  Other than the touchdown category he did not eclipse those numbers last season.  The Rams have struggled at quarterback in the last two seasons especially last year so his production in on par with the talent he had around him. It will be interesting to see if Sam Bradford and Avery develop the QB/WR combination ala Kurt Warner/Torry Holt.

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Tags: Arizona Cardinals NFC West Wide Receivers San Francisco 49ers Seattle Seahawks St. Louis Rams

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