49ers still in search of third receiver

49ers still in search of third receiver
August 26, 2014, 1:15 pm
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Stevie Johnson is being challanged by Quinton Patton, Brandon Lloyd and Bruce Ellington on the depth chart. (USATSI)

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers’ plan at the No. 3 receiver remains a mystery -- even, apparently, to quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“That’ll be a coaches decision,” Kaepernick said Tuesday. “Whoever’s out there, I’ll be throwing to them.”

When asked if he likes the 49ers' options at wide receiver beyond starters Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree, Kaepernick answered, “Very much so.”

As the final cuts approach, Stevie Johnson, Quinton Patton, Brandon Lloyd and Bruce Ellington give the 49ers more depth than they’ve experienced in recent seasons.

Johnson, a seventh-year pro, was the overwhelming front-runner to win the No. 3 job when the 49ers acquired him from the Buffalo Bills in May for a fourth-round draft pick. Before catching 72 passes for 597 yards in 12 games last season, Johnson put together three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

But Johnson, who is scheduled to earn $3.65 million in base salary, did not join Boldin and Crabtree with the first unit Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. Instead, Patton entered as the third receiver when Kaepernick was on the field.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday he “feels good” about Johnson’s spot on the 53-man roster. And Kaepernick spoke highly of Johnson’s ability to get open.

“He’s quick,” Kaepernick said. “Not too many DBs get their hands on him. He has a great ability to create space in routes.”