Until recently, question marks and the San Francisco 49ers weren’t seen in the same room together.
One could say that the former incompatible couple are now on active speaking terms concerning absent offensive playmakers on the outside.
No. 1 wideout Michael Crabtree suffered a devastating torn right Achilles tendon during OTA’s back in May. The 49ers leading receiver and Colin Kaepernick’s most trusted target was lost for the majority of the season in a mere instant—during an innocuous non-contact drill, no less.
What was finally a position of stability and non-concern, wide receiver once again materializes as a huge question mark. It returns to its M.O. as a reason for the masses to doubt the viability of the 49ers as a legitimate Super Bowl contender, a la 2011.
Fortunately, Anquan Boldin is solidified as the new No. 1 WR. His veteran leadership, big-bodied, pass-catching prowess and Super Bowl-winning pedigree qualified him as the indisputable replacement for Crabtree’s spot on the depth chart.
Immediately becoming the go-to target during offseason workouts—and burning Patrick Willis while doing so—certainly doesn’t hurt either, as reported by The Sacramento Bee’s Matt Barrows. The same goes for his versatility as both a flanker (Z position) and slot receiver, though the latter position is a better fit due to his lack of breakaway speed but strength in overpowering smaller defensive backs.
But the pertinent, overarching and be-all, end-all question still remains: Which player will emerge from training camp and fulfill the duties of the No. 2 wideout behind Boldin?
Will 2012 first-round pick A.J. Jenkins step up to the plate in Mario Manningham’s likely early-season absence? Could a less heralded 49er take the reigns? Or might the underappreciated Kyle Williams make a name for himself and silence the boo birds?
Let’s now assess the biggest positional battle in 49ers training camp and evaluate the host of candidates vying for the vacated “X” position at split end.
Note: We will omit Mario Manningham from this competition. He will not participate in any offseason workouts due to his continuing recovery from surgery on his torn ACL and PCL, according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area.