49ers No. 3 receiver job is wide open

49ers No. 3 receiver job is wide open
April 30, 2013, 10:30 am
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Quinton Patton caught 183 passes for 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns in two seasons under head coach Sonny Dykes at Louisiana Tech. (AP) 

Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin were the No. 1 receivers on last season's Super Bowl teams.

Obviously, their starting jobs on the 49ers are not in question.

After that, it's wide open.

Mario Manningham is the only 49ers wide receiver who has experienced NFL success. If healthy, he would be the clear front-runner to be the team's No. 3 receiver -- the same role he held for the Super Bowl-winning New York Giants before signing with the 49ers.

But Manningham, who sustained tears to the anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee in a late-season game against the Seattle Seahawks, is not expected to be ready for the opening of training camp. Manningham expects to be healthy for the start of the regular season, but it's not a sure thing.

Manningham has already accepted a significant pay cut in order to remain with the team. But his spot will be challenged by a group of young receivers:

Quinton Patton: The 49ers selected him in the fourth round after he piled up big stats in his two seasons in Sonny Dykes' offense at Louisiana Tech. Patton caught 183 passes for 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns in two seasons.

[RELATED: 49ers issue rookie numbers]

"The way he competes for the football, I would say stands out to me in my mind," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "The way he competes throughout the entire route. And then when the ball's up in the air, he goes up with the mindset that he's competing for the ball and that's his ball."

Patton also has a chance to help the 49ers in the return game.

A.J. Jenkins: The 49ers' surprise first-round draft pick of last year was healthy his entire rookie season yet did not catch a pass. He spent several weeks after the season working out in Atlanta with quarterback Colin Kaepernick. That's a good sign.

Harbaugh talked about Patton's competitiveness. Earlier this offseason, Harbaugh gave an unsolicited glowing report on Ricardo Lockette. But not since a memorable early-training-camp defense of Jenkins last summer has Harbaugh talked about Jenkins without being asked about him.

Jenkins is signed four three more seasons, so there's still time for him -- as long as he shows he is on the right track and he is committed to being a good football player.

[RELATED: After late season pass rush troubles, 49ers' draft speaks volumes]

Kyle Williams: He should be healthy for the start of training camp after sustaining a torn ACL in November. He was the 49ers' slot receiver until his injury. He caught 14 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown in 11 games. Williams was the No. 2 punt returner behind Ted Ginn the past two seasons.

Ricardo Lockette: He's got good size (6 foot 2, 211 pounds) and speed. Above the measurables, Harbaugh said he sees something else in Lockette. "There's something special there," Harbaugh said. "I just feel it."

The 49ers signed Lockette to the practice squad last season after the Indianapolis Colts signed Nathan Palmer off the 49ers' practice squad. Lockette turned down multiple offers to join 53-man rosters on other teams last season to remain on the 49ers' practice squad. He appeared in two games for the Seattle Seahawks in 2011, catching two passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. He also made the wise move of working out with Kaepernick.

[RELATED: 49ers draft recap]

Others
Chad Hall and Joe Hastings saw limited action at the ends of the past two seasons after injuries decimated the 49ers' wide receiver positions. Marlon Moore signed as a free agent after the Miami Dolphins did not offer him a contract. He had 12 catches for 244 yards and two touchdowns in 29 games the past three seasons with the Dolphins. Chuck Jacobs of Utah State will attend rookie minicamp after signing as an undrafted free agent. Jacobs caught 36 passes for 550 yards and five touchdown last season. And don't forget about seventh-round draft pick B.J. Daniels. He was drafted as a quarterback, but he might have the versatility to serve as a reserve wide receiver on the game day roster if he makes the team.

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