Updates from Wednesday, Aug. 6
Jon Baldwin's tenure with the Lions was a short one, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports:
Lions say they've waived WR Jon Baldwin after claiming him the other day. Failed physical.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 6, 2014
Carlos Monarrez and Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported earlier on the Lions' claim of Baldwin:
The Lions’ waiver claim of wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin is on hold because of a knee injury.
Baldwin took his physical with the Lions on Tuesday, and coach Jim Caldwell said that the team is still 'in the process of evaluating his medical situation at this point.'
'I’m not sure exactly the timetable on when we have to (make a decision is),' Caldwell said after practice Tuesday. '(General manager) Martin (Mayhew) and those guys stay on top of those kind of stuff, but we’re evaluating him right now.'
The Detroit Lions claimed former first-round pick Jon Baldwin off waivers Monday, infusing their receiving corps with another big-bodied pass-catcher.
Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey reported the news:
Detroit Lions have claimed WR Jon Baldwin— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) August 4, 2014
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press confirmed Baldwin's move to Motown and also added his analysis on the acquisition:
The San Francisco 49ers had just waived Baldwin Sunday, as ESPN's Adam Caplan reported, so this move from the Lions came rather quickly. ESPN's Ed Werder offered some insight from his firsthand account:
Noticed WR Jon Baldwin - former No. 1 pick of Chiefs - when visited #Niners camp. Lacked speed to get separation. Released today— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) August 4, 2014
It could be argued that Baldwin has never been in a better position to succeed in his young NFL career than he will be with the Lions, though.
A cannon-armed quarterback in Matthew Stafford, along with the game's best receiver in Calvin Johnson, will hopefully help Baldwin realize his immense potential. Baldwin was the Kansas City Chiefs' No. 26 overall pick in the 2011 draft but didn't quite pan out, accumulating just 41 receptions in his first two seasons.
How will Jon Baldwin fare in Detroit?
That led to a trade to San Francisco, where Baldwin failed to establish himself as a legitimate No. 2 option opposite Anquan Boldin, even with Michael Crabtree missing significant time. The Niners evidently didn't see enough from Baldwin through the offseason and early training camp to justify keeping him.
Even post-practice reps with San Francisco signal-caller Colin Kaepernick didn't help.
"We try to work on the plays I'll be running instead of going out there and running a general route tree," said Baldwin of his work with Kaepernick, per an October 2013 report by 49ers.com's Taylor Price. "He trusts in me and believes in me because we've drilled those routes after practice and also during practice."
Baldwin, 24, is listed at 6'4" and 230 pounds. His raw size is rare, as is his massive catch radius and impressive speed. All the tools are there for Baldwin to be a No. 1-caliber receiver, so he must take after Johnson in Detroit in any way he can.
With someone of Stafford's caliber distributing the ball to Johnson, Golden Tate and first-round tight end Eric Ebron, the Lions' aerial attack should be as explosive as ever. It's up to Baldwin to study the playbook, get up to speed and supply an added, dynamic element to what should already be a lethal offense.
Playing with two non-playoff teams in Kansas City without a surefire franchise passer, and failing to get on the same page with Kaepernick last season, suggests Baldwin's best may be brought out by Stafford.
On the other hand, he is way too skilled to have underachieved to the extent he has to date. In two previous, rather stable organizations that went to the playoffs last year, he hasn't lived up to the hype. The Lions are in the midst of a coaching change under Jim Caldwell, who has room to integrate Baldwin into an offense that features few wide receivers outside of Johnson and Tate.
As has been the case for his first three years as a pro, though, it's up to Baldwin to figure it out and find a way to make the most of what may be his final NFL opportunity in Detroit.