The San Francisco 49ers anteed up for the 2012 NFL Season by bolstering their wide receiving corps via the NFL Draft and free agency.
Reciever was the position that received the most focus from the front office, which was looking to not only fix the group, but to add the final missing pieces to this Super Bowl contender.
NFL.com's Bucky Brooks recently gushed about the 49ers offense, citing the incredible ability and depth at the wide receiver position. At this point it seems pretty safe to say fans can expect Alex Smith to see career-highs across the board.
With that in mind, the following are stat projections for the 49ers wide receiving corps in 2012:
Player Rec Yds Yds/Avg TD
Michael Crabtree: 74 1,054 14.2 7
Mario Manningham: 61 643 10.5 6
Randy Moss: 38 665 17.5 8
Kyle WIlliams: 34 476 14.0 2
A.J. Jenkins: 23 312 13.6 3
Ted Ginn Jr.: 11 92 8.3 0
241 3,242 13.1 26
San Francisco's receiving situation was among the worst in the league last year. It was no mystery that injuries and departures by players like Josh Morgan and Braylon Edwards hurt the team, restricting the 49ers of their full potential.
The top-three wide receivers for San Francisco last year were Michael Crabtree, Kyle Williams and Ted Ginn Jr. who accounted for a measly 1,335 yards collectively. The Niners' top-three receivers in 2012 could could easily achieve more than double that (2,362) if everyone remains healthy.
The 49ers will also have their first 1,000-yard receiver since Terrell Owens in 2003 with 1,102. I'm openly predicting Crabtree hits multiple career milestones in 2012, taking advantage of a terrific team situation and furthered chemistry with his quarterback. He should be a bright star in this revitalized unit.
The entire unit will combine for total improvement on the offensive side of the ball -- especially for the quarterback. In 2011, Smith only connected with a wide receiver 143 times, but given San Francisco's emphasis on the position this offseason, that is another stat that will jump (241) this coming year. Smith's playmakers this year will sure be able to make his job easier, while the quarterback himself is still improving.
All of these receivers are capable of strong individual campaigns; this is a group that all of a sudden has size, speed, big-play ability and down field presence after a tumultuous showing last year. Like Bucky, I expect big things from this offense in 2012.
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