Three and Out: Keep an eye on Collie; Asomugha confident
From 2009 to 2011, Austin Collie averaged 57 catches for 613 yards and five touchdowns per season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
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SANTA CLARA -- The player with the second-most NFL success among the team's healthy wide receivers feels as if he is starting over.
Receiver Austin Collie on Sunday described his quest to prove himself with the 49ers as "an uphill battle."
"After being out for 10 months with a knee injury, and on top of that, having to learn a new playbook, a new system, the way they run routes here being different than maybe we used to run routes, it's definitely work," he said.
Collie's 2012 season ended in his first game with the Indianapolis Colts when he sustained a torn right patellar tendon. He also has a history of concussions.
"They've been in the rear-view mirror for a while now," Collie said of his concussions.
He signed with the 49ers on Aug. 2 after looking good in a workout. He signed a one-year contract for the league minimum of $715,000. He also signed an injury waiver, a source told CSNBayArea.com, that protects the 49ers in case Collie should sustain an injury.
He played 16 snaps in the 49ers' exhibition opener against the Denver Broncos and caught two passes for 20 yards. He should continue to see increased practice and play time, as the 49ers slowly bring him along.
"I think with leg injuries, coming off a serious leg injury, got to be conscious of not bursting, not hitting that top gear quite yet," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "It's a progression."
It's also a progression for Collie -- both mentally and physically. He and veteran receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who signed with the 49ers on the same day, have to play catchup in their battle for roster spots. After all, the other wide receivers on the team were around at least through the offseason program, so they have a head start.
Collie has one advantage in the competition to find a home with the 49ers. Anquan Boldin is clearly the 49ers' top receiver -- both in reputation and results on the practice field. Collie, 27, is the only other healthy receiver who has experienced success in the NFL. From 2009 to 2011, Collie averaged 57 catches for 613 yards and five touchdowns per season.
With Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham on the physically-unable-to-perform list, no other 49ers receiver besides Boldin has caught more than 15 passes in a season twice in his career.
"Austin brings a great pedigree with him," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "He had an injury before that kind of halted that. Austin is a guy who understands the game. Is a disciplined guy. He's learning our offense, but any time you can have a guy who knows what to do, how to do it, understands coverage, and all that, it's a bonus.
"We're looking at the big picture of the player, and Austin is in working hard every day. He's taking nothing for granted."
As much as he has a background of success during his time with the Colts when he twice ranked as the team's No. 3 pass receiver, Collie realizes that means nothing now.
"I almost feel like it's a clean slate," he said. "I got to prove myself again. It's the NFL. Every day is a competition."