The San Francisco 49ers have plenty of question marks at wide receiver entering 2020, but an unheralded name to watch this offseason is second-year pro Shawn Poindexter.
There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the San Francisco 49ers and how they handle their wide receiver situation heading into 2020.
En route to Super Bowl LIV, head coach Kyle Shanahan entrusted his wide receiver duties essentially to three receivers: Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne. Now, Sanders is poised to command good money in free agency. Bourne is a restricted free agent and is likely to return, while Samuel is a rising star.
Still, there are plenty of doubts lower on the depth chart. Third-year pro Dante Pettis fell out of Shanahan’s favor quickly last season, and wideouts Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd both spent 2019 on injured reserve.
Looking at the rest of the Niners depth chart, it’s hard to get excited about the team’s other options.
Or is it?
One name worth watching this offseason is second-year pro wide receiver Shawn Poindexter.
Poindexter, a 2019 undrafted free agent out of Arizona, suffered a torn ACL in the 49ers preseason win over the Denver Broncos last August. But not before he recorded two catches on three targets for a total of 12 yards.
In the context of preseason stats, those numbers don’t say much. But the intangibles are certainly worth monitoring as Shanahan and Co. gear up their offseason plans heading towards training camp.
Poindexter is among the tallest of San Francisco’s pass catchers, standing at 6-foot-5 and 218 pounds, which puts him alongside Hurd as the tallest players at this specific position. That alone might be worth a look, as the 49ers could experiment with both Hurd and Poindexter as H-backs, essentially, not tied specifically to wide receiver duties, possibly being mixed in with other unique formations, lending more to the idea of Shanahan’s “positionless” offense.
Poindexter didn’t have great speed during his pre-NFL Draft workouts, running a 4.73 40-yard time at his pro day. But in short-area situations, particularly where winning 50-50 matchups is more important, the big-bodied target could find his niche.
Keep in mind, the 49ers ranked 20th in red-zone touchdown efficiency last season despite all their offensive success, finding pay dirt in this area just 55.6 percent of the time.
Hurd, who also dealt with an injury for all of last year, is another player to watch. But as is the case with most unknown commodities essentially competing for a similar role, Poindexter could be in a position where he’s battling with Hurd for increased reps and chances into training camp and the preseason.
The fit for a red-zone thread makes Poindexter a player worth watching this offseason, especially if the Niners don’t go after another big-bodied pass catcher in the draft or free agency between now and organized team activities.
And if Poindexter winds up making a splash, perhaps the conversation for a spot on the 53-man roster isn’t too far out of the question.