Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Previewing Position Battles At 49ers Training Camp: Wide Receiver

Wide Receivers on the Roster: Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree (injured), Chad Hall, Chuck Jacobs, A.J. Jenkins, Ricardo Lockette, Mario Manningham, Marlon Moore, Kassim Osgood, Quinton Pattion, Kyle Williams

Position Battle: No. 2 and No. 3 wide receivers

The Battling Players: A.J. Jenkins, Quinton Patton, Kyle Williams, Mario Manningham, Ricardo Lockette

The injury to Michael Crabtree was devastating as it will keep him out at least until December. But in its wake a receiver will need to emerge for the 49ers and step up in Crabtree’s absence.

Before Crabtree’s injury, the No. 1 and No. 2 receiving spots were going to him and Anquan Boldin. Now with Boldin bumped up the depth chart, this leaves holes to fill at the second and third roster spots. The most obvious receivers to fill the positions with would be veterans Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams, however, both are coming off of serious injuries from last season.

There is still no time table for Williams to return who had averaged 15.1 yards per catch splitting playing time with Randy Moss last season as the No. 3 receiver. Likewise, Manningham is still recovering from his injury suffered in December and he hopes to be back in time for training camp. However, it is unlikely he will be fully recovered by the start of the regular season.

With the veterans at receiver all banged up, the inexperienced receivers on the roster, A.J. Jenkins, Quinton Patton and Ricardo Lockette, have a huge opportunity to step up and make a name for himself. The biggest expectations to fill the No. 2 receiver position are on Jenkins, who was a first-round draft pick last season, but disappointed with zero production on the field.

Despite being a fourth-round draft pick, Patton is also a favorite as he has shown huge dedication to becoming an NFL player and he has excellent route-running skills. He is a type of a receiver that attacks the football in the air, which will make for a good fit with Colin Kaepernick.

Lockette is the biggest long shot to fill the roster spots, let alone to make the regular season roster. One advantage he has is this off-season he was working out, studying and living with Kaepernick while the two were in Atlanta.

Position Prediction: All of the reports on Jenkins coming out of the off-season workouts have been positive so far. Not only from reporters covering the 49ers’ minicamps and OTAs, but he also received praise from coaches Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman. Jenkins realizes the opportunity he has been presented with, and he knows it is one he cannot fumble. Otherwise, Niner fans will cast him off as a draft bust. This is why he will win the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

Patton will show it was a mistake for teams to pass him up in the NFL draft and by the end of the season he will be the steal of the 2013 draft. He will bring the explosiveness and skills needed at the slot receiver, something the 49ers offense has been lacking for years.


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