You know you have depth on your team when the wide receiver camp battle is already filled with an abundance of talent. A skill position that requires speed, precision, and soft hands, the 49ers find themselves in unchartered territory as they are loaded with talent at the receiver position for the first time under the Jim Harbaugh era. From seasoned veterans like WR Anquan Boldin to second-year WR Quinton Patton, the Niners have a good nucleus to work with heading into the 2014 season. However, they can’t keep everyone and as a result you can be sure a big name wide receiver will be looking for work elsewhere. The question remains who will that be?
As I mentioned earlier, the 49ers have a good mix of players already in the fold and with young prospects such as Patton and rookie fourth-round pick WR Bruce Ellington you can bet your top dollar they will make the 53-man roster. Both players bring a unique dimension to OC Greg Roman’s offense as Ellington can be used in a multitude of ways while playing the slot while Patton can turn a quick hitch into a 65-yard touchdown. But what about veterans like WR Brandon Lloyd and WR Kassim Osgood? That’s the camp battle to watch.
Why? Because the 49ers already have entrenched starters in WR Michael Crabtree and Boldin and with the 49ers trading for WR Stevie Johnson in this year’s draft, that only leaves room for one player to be retained. It’s highly unlikely to think that the 49ers would keep all seven wide receivers. They rarely use three wide-out sets and seven receivers on the roster would greatly impact other positions. So who will win out? Lloyd or Osgood?
Lloyd is clearly the better wide receiver of the two but does not bring any added value as a special-teamer, something the 49ers have always coveted. And with Osgood possessing the exact opposite, it becomes a personal decision as to who they will keep. Lloyd in my opinion is the fourth best wide-receiver on the team behind Boldin, Crabtree, and Johnson but with younger and cheaper alternatives like Ellington and Patton he may need to check his ego and play for the league minimum if he wishes to remain with the team.
Osgood, is arguably the best special-teams player on the team as he provides the downfield speed to track return-men dead in their tracks. But with steady improvement of CB Darryl Morris and the signing of ILB Blake Costanzo all while having ST Bubba Ventrone, is Osgood now expendable?
Every year, there’s always that one player that gets cut and the Forever Faithful look back and say “Wow, I didn’t see that one coming!” And despite what people may think, the Lloyd and Osgood camp battle is the one to watch. The question remains, who will they keep and who will they let go? Time will tell and as much as I hate to say it, the answer may be Lloyd as Osgood already asserted himself as one of the 49ers special-teams aces and a favorite of ST Coach Brad Seely.