The San Francisco 49ers may have eleven healthy receivers on their roster, but they have a glaring hole opposite of Anquan Boldin. With some players with immense potential not stepping up, it is time for the 49ers to start injury prone Austin Collie at the receiver spot.
Currently, Collie is buried on the depth chart due to him signing just a week ago, but in his first week with the Niners he has impressed. Yesterday, Collie was one of the more effective 49ers on the field and caught two touchdowns in the red zone, a combination of Boldin, Collie, Vernon Davis and a running back of your choice could be deadly in the red zone for the Niners.
Collie does not come without baggage though, he was out of the league due to several concussions and a torn patella tendon in his knee. When healthy, Collie is a quarterbacks dream. He catches 70% of the balls thrown his way and he is a first down machine. With Michael Crabtree optimistically out until Thanksgiving, the Niners need players that can convert on third down, Crabtree’s bread and butter. With Boldin and Collie the Niners would have two of the better third down specialists for Colin Kaepernick.
For Collie and Boldin — two players not fleet of foot — to work, the Niners would need Davis to step up as the deep threat in the offense. The player that “takes the top off the defense”. Reports are that Kaepernick and Davis have been building a strong rapport and that Davis is almost uncoverable on deep routes in practice.
Expect Collie to play a lot more in the second preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs and with A.J. Jenkins and Ricardo Lockette not stepping up at the receiver position, it is an opportune time for Collie (only 27 years old) to take the starting receiver position from the young guys.
When Crabtree and Mario Manningham return, it may be a different story, but right now Collie gives the 49ers the best chance to win games especially early in the season when they have a brutal start.