As the San Francisco 49ers continue to do their due diligence in finding the right talent to surround QB Colin Kaepernick, one glaring weakness that will surely need to be addressed is the wide-receiver position.
A unit that has lacked a viable downfield deep-threat since WR Terrell Owens, the 49ers offense must find a wide-receiver that can stretch the field and keep safeties honest.
Sure the 49ers have TE Vernon Davis at their disposal but he mainly works the middle of the field inside the numbers on posts, digs, and out routes. And while he endured a down season in 2014, I fully expect him to bounce back in 2015.
However, the 49ers still need a burner on the outside, and the draft features a few options who could help out immensely including WR DeVante Parker (Louisville), WR Kevin White (West Virginia) and WR Devin Funchess (Michigan).
Parker who is the second rated wide-receiver on my big board continues to look the part of a home-run threat. A player that has the sub 4.3 speed to stretch the field, Parker would do wonders for Kaepernick on the deep-posts, corners, and fade routes. An asset the 49ers have been lacking in the passing game, Parker would be an ideal-fit as he learns from one of the best in WR Anquan Boldin.
But with Parker projected to be off the board within the first 13 picks, that leaves White to be the likely target if the 49ers opt not to trade-up.
White is at his best in red zone opportunities when matched up one-on-one on the outside, which would make him a perfect complement to Boldin. A solid route-runner that does not shy away from contact, White would make perfect sense as he can take the top off a defense. A threat that has been sorely missing in San Francisco, White’s ability to win 50-50 balls is something that should not go unnoticed. A true gamer with a strong work ethic to improve makes White a likely target on GM Trent Baalke’s draft board.
Note: White is currently working out with Kaepernick in Arizona
If both those players are gone and the 49ers still see value at the receiver position, they could surprise everyone and select Michigan’s Funchess in a trade-down. (selecting him at 15 would be considered a reach)
At 6-5, 235, Funchess would be somewhat of a hybrid wide-receiver/tight-end. A big-bodied target with the massive catching radius to match, Funchess would be a nice addition to the 49ers passing attack. And while he lacks elite speed to separate he more than makes up for it with his 6-5 frame as he can easily out-jump the smaller defensive backs. Just like in basketball, a point-guard who is 6-1 can have inside position for a rebound but if a small-forward standing 6-6 can out-jump the guard while attacking the ball at it’s highest point there’s really no contest (assuming he doesn’t go over the back).
A basketball analogy but one that makes sense. Plus, Baalke loves players with basketball backgrounds because they know all about ‘spacing.’ Remember last year’s fourth-round pick WR Bruce Ellington? Yeah he was the starting point-guard for South Carolina at one point so you know Baalke values this skill-set.
With the 49ers looking to fulfill that deep-threat role on the outside, make no mistake there is talent here for the Niners to pool from. Whether looking for a burner or big-bodied target, the 49ers will target a receiver at some point during the draft and these three could be on their short-list.