Last season, the 49ers were lacking a true slot receiver and depended mostly on Michael Crabtree for majority of the team’s yardage through the air. A.J. Jenkins failed to record a reception while Randy Moss was not a frequent target for most of the year.
This year, Crabtree and newly acquired WR Anquan Boldin should be the top two receivers on the depth chart. After that, it all becomes uncertain and wide open for anyone to take. Here are possibilities at who could be the third receiver:
Mario Manningham: Manningham is the only WR who experience as a third receiver. When he played for the New York Giants, he was behind Hakeem Nicks and Victory Cruz. If healthy, Manningham would be the favorite to become the third receiver for the 49ers.
He is coming off a torn ACL and PCL which he suffered against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16 last year. Manningham will be limited in training camp, but is expected to be ready to go when the regular season begins. Recently, he accepted a pay cut to stay with the 49ers.
A.J. Jenkins: The 2012 first-round pick was inactive for 14 regular season games last year before playing in Week 14 against the Miami Dolphins. He was targeted only once in three regular season and three postseason games.
This past offseason, Jenkins spent time in Atlanta working out with Colin Kaepernick. If Kaepernick and Jenkins are able to find chemistry, he could live up to the hype the 49ers envisioned in him.
Kyle Williams: Williams suffered a torn ACL in November after showing promise as a WR last season. He was the slot receiver for the 49ers until he went down and recorded 212 receiving yards to go with one touchdown in 11 games.
Williams was the backup punt returner behind Ted Ginn Jr on special teams in 2011 and 2012. He should be ready to go at the start of training camp in August.
Quinton Patton: The 49ers drafted Patton in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft and was one of the most productive receivers in college. In two seasons under Sonny Dykes at Louisiana Tech, he had 183 receptions for 2,594 yards to go with 24 touchdowns.
Jim Harbuagh specifically liked his route running abilities and his strength in going for the ball. Patton can also contribute on special teams as a return man.
Ricardo Lockette: Lockette joined the practice squad after WR Nate Palmer was signed by the Indianapolis Colts off the practice squad in 2012. He has only appeared in two games for the Seattle Seahawks in 2011. Like Jenkins, Lockette spent this offseason working out with Kaepernick in Atlanta.
Kaepernick says he possesses good speed and claimed he is one of the fastest receivers he has worked with. The 6-2, 211 pound receiver has the right size to do damage, but has a major uphill battle.
B.J. Daniels: Daniels was one of three seventh round draft picks by the 49ers in the 2013 NFL Draft. Despite being taken as a quarterback, Daniels has the athleticism to play multiple positions and could be a receiver if the coaching staff feels it is best for the team. This would be one of the biggest long shots to earn the slot receiver role.