Gary Wiepert/Associated Press
In the short-term, no position for the 49ers was improved more this offseason than wide receiver.
Stevie Johnson, who was acquired via trade with the Buffalo Bills in May, is a considerable upgrade over any of the receivers behind Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree on the depth chart last year.
He totaled 3,123 receiving yards from 2010-12, but he struggled through an injury-plagued 2013 to post just 597 receiving yards. The Niners are hoping to get the Johnson of old for 2014, but even a slightly less-than-100 percent version of the former Bill is a bigger threat than Quinton Patton.
San Francisco also drafted Bruce Ellington in the fourth round. As I noted here, his speed and ball skills should translate well to the NFL. If he develops, he'll be part of this receiver corps for years to come.
And taking a chance on Brandon Lloyd can't hurt. According to multiple reports, including this one from Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle, he's looked great with the Niners this offseason:
The most significant development in the 49ers’ silly season is the play of wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. He has dominated workouts with his savvy, acrobatic catches, Velcro fingers and pristine route running.
As Lynch noted, there may not be room for Lloyd to make the team. At the least, he'll push Patton, Ellington and Johnson in training camp.
Lastly, it's worth mentioning that Crabtree is healthier now than he was in 2013, and his teammates have noticed his improved explosiveness.
“At the end of last year he still wasn’t 100 percent,” Colin Kaepernick told Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area. “He has a lot more burst to him now. (He) looks really good.”
With Johnson and a healthy Crabtree, the Niners should have their best receiver group in years. Anything they get from Lloyd or Ellington would be gravy.