Niners Cuts 2013: Austin Collie Release Shows Sneaky WR Depth for 49ers

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2013

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 26:  Wide receiver Austin Collie #17 of the Indianapolis Colts makes a reception and picks up a first down as as Ryan Diem #71 of the Colts blocks Nate Jones #33 of the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 26, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Colts defeated the Broncos 27-13.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers released wide receiver Austin Collie on Saturday while whittling the roster down to 53 players—a move that highlights the team's underrated receiving corps.

Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee first broke the news that Collie would be released:

A proven player who had a few big seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, Collie will be an intriguing player for other teams as the NFL's regular season approaches.

In three-plus seasons with the Colts, he caught 173 passes for 1,845 yards and 16 touchdowns. He works well in the slot and has shown to be a tough receiver in the middle. 

So why did the 49ers let him go?

Some will point to his injury history, but that's not the real issue. 

Collie suffered a string of concussions and then missed most of last season after a patellar tendon injury, but he looked good running in preseason games with the second and third-stringers.

The reason that the 49ers let him go is simple: The team is actually loaded with talent at the receiver position, despite the fact that many analysts thought it was a position of weakness entering the season. 

Anquan Boldin is a three-time Pro Bowl receiver who has 772 career receptions—58 of which went for touchdowns. He's going to be one of Colin Kaepernick's go-to guys on third downs, but he's not a player who will stretch the field much.

Marlon Moore is highly underrated. Though he only has 12 career receptions in his three seasons with the Miami Dolphins, he looked good in limited action this preseason. Blessed with good long speed, he has also displayed some toughness and, better yet, a strong desire to catch the ball in traffic. 

Rookie Quinton Patton has opened some eyes since making his debut in Game 3. Showing excellent quickness and hands, he caught six passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns while playing mostly with the first unit. 

Not surprisingly, the 49ers retained Jon Baldwin, who was acquired when the team traded A.J. Jenkins to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Baldwin will take some time to acclimate to the team's playbook, but he looked solid in limited action this preseason. The biggest knock on him coming out of Kansas City was his propensity to drop passes, but he did a nice job of plucking the ball out of the air with his hands in two games with the 49ers.

While recovering from his ACL injury, Kyle Williams has been sort of forgotten by many in the national media. Before his injury last year, he was an explosive receiver who averaged 15.1 yards per reception.

So, after dropping Collie, the 49ers have five receivers on the roster as of Saturday evening. 

But receivers aren't the only receiving threats on San Francisco's roster. 

Tight end Vernon Davis is a Pro Bowler who is developing excellent chemistry with Kaepernick, and he'll line up all over the field this season. Additionally, rookie tight end Vance McDonald has showed some promise as a playmaker this summer.

Once Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham return from the PUP list this season, the 49ers will have a hard time keeping all their talented receivers happy with enough balls to go around. 

The 49ers have accumulated a sneaky good receiving corps for the 2013 season. 

Combined with Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and the absolute best offensive line in the NFL, this offense will be tough to stop this year. 


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