The 49ers have five wide receivers who appear to be safe bets to earn roster spots in 2014.
In fact, it would be shocking if the group of Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington were not intact on the 49ers’ 53-man roster to open the regular season.
The 49ers kept five wide receivers on their roster last season. And they had another two receivers on the practice squad.
Veterans Brandon Lloyd, Jon Baldwin and Kassim Osgood are on the outside looking in at this point. Of course, none of those players ares eligible for the practice squad, either:
Lloyd – When we last saw him, he was a productive player with the New England Patriots in 2012. He caught 74 passes from Tom Brady for 911 yards and four touchdowns. But Lloyd did not play last season. And he turns 33 in July. Plus, his scheduled salary is $1 million, which becomes fully guaranteed if he opens the regular season on the roster. He has no special-teams value, and that’s a must if he does not beat out Johnson for the No. 3 job.
Baldwin – He agreed to a dramatic pay cut just to remain on the 49ers’ offseason roster. Patton beat him out for the No. 3 job last season. Like Lloyd, Baldwin has no value on special teams.
Osgood – He spent most of last season on the 53-man roster because of his special-teams play. He caught one pass for 17 yards. The 49ers use four-receiver sets fewer than any team in the league, and that does not figure to change. Tight end Vernon Davis will always be on the field for passing downs, and the 49ers love to keep a back, such as Frank Gore, in the game to help protect Colin Kaepernick. Osgood has an advantage over Lloyd and Baldwin due to his special-teams contribution. But Osgood’s spot on the roster will be challenged less by the other receivers and more by young players at other spots who figure to line up exclusively on special teams.
Chuck Jacobs, Devon Wylie and David Reed are also battling for spots on the team.