There is no question in my mind that the San Francisco 49ers are absolutely loaded at the wide receiver position. A position that was once considered a weakness just a year ago, the 49ers have since brought in reinforcements for the 2014 season. From signing seasoned veteran WR Brandon Lloyd to acquiring WR Stevie Johnson, the 49ers have quickly turned a weakness into a strength. However, with so much talent at the skill position, the question remains who has the best hands, catching radius, etc.? I have broken the wide receiver skill-set into five categories and ranked who I felt was the best in each of those classifications. So without further ado my rankings are:
No one runs a better route tree than Lloyd. A smart football player who does not tip his hand when coming off his stem, Lloyd has developed the reputation as being one of the best route-runners in the game. From running a comeback route to a corner route, Lloyd has the fluidity to run crisp routes coming cleanly in-and-out of his breaks.
2.) Hands- WR Anquan Boldin
While some may say Crabtree, I have to respectfully disagree. Boldin has some of the strongest hands in the NFL. Whether high-pointing the ball with defensive backs hanging on his arms to snaring a one-handed catch on a dig-route, Boldin can do it all while making acrobatic catches look routine.
If you throw the ball anywhere near Boldin, he will go up and get it. An overthrown pass, no problem as Boldin has the body control to extend his body while catching the ball away from his body. Throw it behind Boldin, no problem as Boldin can adjust on the fly with his quick hand-eye coordination skills. A great target and security blanked for QB Colin Kaepernick, Boldin is as reliable as they come, which is why he was voted the team’s MVP last season.
4.) Speed- WR Bruce Ellington
All I have to say is 4.45 40-yard dash speed. And in the NFL speed kills. From returning kicks to locking down the slot, Ellington will surely display his explosion as he gets more opportunities during the course of the season. A player I predicted to have as much of an impact as any 49ers rookie, look for Ellington to shine as he can evade tacklers like a human joystick.
5.) Blocking- WR Anquan Boldin
A willing blocker that has no problems setting the edge to spring a teammate, Boldin does a nice job in that department. A savvy blocker who has the strength to forklift defensive backs at the point of attack makes Boldin the best blocker on the team.