4 problems 49ers must solve in preseason finale vs. Raiders
By Peter Panacy
No. 3: Who should 49ers deploy on returns?
Wide receiver Richie James is going to be out six weeks after Kyle Shanahan told reporters the primary returner over the last three years needed knee surgery.
Shanahan has scantly used James on offense over the last three years anyway.
That said, finding an upgrade could still be in the cards.
It’s anyone’s guess how much Shanahan wants to explore deploying one of his better offensive weapons, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, as a punt returner. But one of the recently added free agents from this offseason, fellow wideout Nsimba Webster, performed well on return duties in Week 1 of the preseason, as well as notching some offensive touches that were impressive.
But Webster wasn’t anywhere near as solid in preseason Week 2, while veteran wide receiver Travis Benjamin also got work in on punt returns.
Whoever provides the biggest thump for the third phase of the game might wind up getting the job once the regular season rolls around.