49ers draft outlook: Wide receivers

49ers draft outlook: Wide receivers
May 1, 2014, 8:00 am
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Brandin Cooks won the Biletnikoff Award in 2013 and clocked a ridiculous 4.33 official time in the 40. (USATSI)

49ers Draft Outlook
Outside Linebackers
Inside Linebackers
Defensive Linemen
Wide Receivers
May 1 -- Offensive Linemen
May 2 -- Tight Ends
May 3 -- Specialists
May 4 -- Running Backs
May 5 -- Quarterbacks

Editor’s note: Insider Matt Maiocco will have draft content every day leading up to the NFL Draft (May 8-10), including position breakdowns, retrospectives, mock drafts and more; bookmark our Road to the NFL Draft

The 49ers’ only two 1,000-yard receivers since Terrell Owens’ messy departure in 2004 are back for their first full season together.

There is little doubt Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree are the team’s top two wideouts. And Brandon Lloyd makes an attempted return to the NFL after a one-year hiatus. The last time he played was in 2012. He had 911 yards receiving with Tom Brady’s New England Patriots before taking a break last season.

The 49ers also have Quinton Patton, who enters his second NFL season. He did not fully maximize his rookie season due to injuries. First, he sustained a broken finger from a Colt McCoy pass in training camp. Then, he missed 10 regular-season games with a fractured foot. When Patton got healthy, he was the No. 3 wideout. Two of his five catches in the final four games, including playoffs, were big plays in road wins at Arizona and Carolina in the NFC Divisional round.

Kassim Osgood earned a roster spot due to his play on special teams. Jon Baldwin, the 2011 first-round pick acquired in a trade from the Kansas City Chiefs, accepted a dramatic pay cut for the right to remain with the club in the offseason and compete for a roster spot.

One NFL scouts advises, “Don’t sleep on Devon Wylie.” He has skills as a slot receiver and is also the best option to return punts currently on the roster if LaMichael James does not return.

Who's here: Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Quinton Patton, Brandon Lloyd, Kassim Osgood, Devon Wylie, Jon Baldwin, Chuck Jacobs, David Reed, DeMarco Sampson

Draft needs: While there’s no question Boldin and Crabtree are both expert route-runners and sure-handed targets, they both can benefit immensely from a complement receiver with speed. Also, Boldin, 33, is under contract for two seasons. Crabtree enters the final year of his deal. And if the negotiation for his rookie contract is any indication, he’ll be difficult to sign to a new deal before he reaches free agency. Clearly, wide receiver ranks as one of the 49ers’ top needs in this draft. They could package some of their 11 draft picks (all but the compensatory selection can be traded) to move up for a wide receiver. Or they could take a wideout at virtually any spot in the draft. This draft is loaded with talent at the position.

Good fits: The 49ers have the capabilities of trading up to just about any spot in the draft to get a player they target. That’s the luxury they have with 11 draft picks, including six in the top 100. (Their pick at No. 100 is a compensatory selection and cannot be traded.)

Let’s start with Mike Evans (Texas A&M). He's the consensus No. 2 receiver in this draft behind Sammy Watkins (Clemson). Evans is 6 foot 4 ¾ and has the longest arms (35 1/8 inches) of any available receiver. He ran an official time of 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine. Odell Beckham (LSU) is also a potential trade-up target. He’s got decent size (5-11 1/4 ) and also ranks as one of the top punt returners in the draft, so the 49ers can find plenty of uses for him. Brandin Cooks (Oregon State) is undersized at 5-9 ¾, but he won the Biletnikoff Award in 2013 and clocked a ridiculous 4.33 official time in the 40.

The 49ers will have plenty of first- and second-round options if they don’t make any moves within the first two days of the draft with such options at Marqise Lee (USC), Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt), Allen Robinson (Penn State), Cody Latimer (Indiana), Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State), Davante Adams (Fresno State), Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss) and Martavis Bryant (Clemson). Jalen Saunders (Oklahoma) and Jared Abbrederis (Wisconsin) are late-round options due to their experience returning punts.

[RELATED: 49ers visited with  WR Benjamin]


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