49ers review: Wide receivers

February 6, 2012, 7:00 pm
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This is the seventh installment of a nine-part series that reviews every 49ers player and position group.When the season opened, the 49ers figured Michael Crabtree would be their No. 1 receiver. Then, it was up to Braylon Edwards and Joshua Morgan to sort out the next two wideout spots among themselves. Ted Ginn would handle the return duties and be the No. 4 receiver. So that was the thinking when the season began. But when the season ended, it was a different story. Morgan sustained a season-ending injury; Edwards injured his knee, became disengaged and was released; and Ginn missed the NFC Championship Game with a knee injury. This unit provided woeful production in the games that mattered most. Grade: D-

Michael Crabtree -- When the regular season ended, Crabtree's stock was the highest it had been since the 49ers chose him with the No. 10 pick in the 2009 draft. He and quarterback Alex Smith were peaking together at the right time. Crabtree caught 72 passes for 880 yards, both team-highs, and four touchdowns. But after catching a 4-yard TD pass on a quick slant in the first quarter of the 49ers' playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, nothing went right. Crabtree failed to hold onto three catchable passes later in that game, and he had just one catch for 3 yards against the Giants. Afterward, Crabtree was frustrated, saying all he wanted was more opportunities to make plays. He is signed through the 2014 season, and he still figures prominently in the 49ers' future. Crabtree bought into Jim Harbaugh's blue-collar mantra, as he was a surprisingly effective -- and willing -- blocker.Ted Ginn -- He rated anywhere from extraordinary (Week 1) to solid and steady (all the other weeks) as a return man. But as a receiver, he wasn't that much of a factor with 19 catches for 220 yards and no touchdowns in 14 regular-season games. Ginn has blazing speed, but his average reception went for just 11.6 yards. Ginn and Alex Smith could never hook up on deep routes outside the numbers, as Ginn's longest reception was 26 yards. That was his only catch of more than 20 yards the entire season. He carried the ball eight times and averaged 8.5 yards, as the "fly sweep" became a staple of the playbook.Kyle Williams -- The No. 5 receiver when the season opened, Williams showed some promise as a slot receiver with 20 catches for 241 yards and three touchdowns when pressed into action. He showed big-play ability against the St. Louis Rams when he took a short slant, turned upfield and raced 56 yards for a touchdown. He caught two passes for 12 yards against the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs. Against the Giants, he did not have an official reception and his two miscues in the return game proved costly.Brett Swain -- He won a mid-season competition for a roster spot against veteran free agents T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Brian Finneran and Chris Chambers. But Swain never won the confidence of the coaching staff. He had two catches for 15 yards during the regular season. He did not go aggressively after a deep pass on the final drive against the Saints in the playoffs. And the following week, the 49ers opted to use two tight ends instead of him as the third receiver against the Giants in passing situations.
Joe Hastings -- The undrafted free agent from Washburn earned a spot on the 49ers' practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster for the regular-season finale and saw just a handful of snaps in that game against the Rams. He did not catch a pass. He did not play in either of the playoff games.Joshua Morgan -- His season appeared to be on the up-tick . . . then in the closing minutes of a blowout victory Oct. 9 against Tampa Bay, Morgan sustained a fractured leg just above the ankle that required season-ending surgery. Morgan's rehab is ahead of schedule, and he should be able to participate in the entire offseason program. He is scheduled to be a free agent, and it would seem to make sense for the sides to agree on a contract for next season. In five games, Morgan caught 15 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown.Dontavia Bogan -- The undrafted rookie from South Florida sustained a torn right ACL in a non-contact passing drill during one of the first practices of training camp. He'll get another chance this summer.

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