In the Week 4 victory over the New York Jets, speedster Ted Ginn Jr. finally returned to action for the San Francisco 49ers. Ginn had been sidelined by injury for the first three games of the regular season, leaving Kyle Williams to take over his return duties.
It's understood that Ted Ginn Jr. qualifies as a top-three return man in the league today. His straight-line speed, vision and explosiveness as a returner makes him a threat to take it to the house anytime he catches the coverage team sleeping.
However, in Ginn's absence, Williams emerged, showing his ability as a return specialist. While Ginn's overall speed makes him dangerous, Williams' quick feet and agility make him equally scary.
At the moment, one could argue that Ginn has better vision than Williams, but that will come with experience. The former sixth-rounder from Arizona State could transition into that role pretty smoothly. With enough repetitions, the changeover from Ginn to Williams would hardly be noticeable.
Besides, Ginn's absence was barely an issue through the first three games, as Williams broke half of his kick returns for 40-plus yards.
Football fans forget that Williams was a dynamo in the NCAA as a return man, earning All Pac-10 honors as early as his sophomore year. The college receiver was featured as a return specialist for the Sun Devils, providing a number of big plays.
Furthermore, there is the notion that Williams is the better wide receiver—I believe this to be true.
Both players joined the 49ers in 2010, and as a pass-catcher and route-runner, Williams has already exceeded what Ginn has shown, even though Ginn was a first-rounder and already established in the league.
The offensive position just seems to come more naturally for Williams.
Now, if the 49ers came to the conclusion that Ginn was disposable this year, San Francisco could begin to incorporate their rookies into the lineup. However, that is extremely unlikely to happen. The team will likely ride this season out with Ginn, who returned to the team on a one-year deal.
Given his approach to the 2012 offseason, the word is out that Ted Ginn Jr. would like to be a featured receiver somewhere. The 49ers have chalked up a unique but limited role for him on offense, insignificant enough where both sides might be content with a mutual parting of the ways.
Unless Ginn could prove his value again in 2012, there will likely be a changing of the landscape when it comes to San Francisco's special teams. After this season, the Niners will likely allow Ginn to walk, giving Williams the nod in 2013 and beyond.