Positional Analysis Wide Receiver
January 23 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
The 49ers receiving crew is supposed to be on of the strengths of the whole team, but if last season taught us all anything, itís that the 49ers either need help here, or need to get Garcia on par with the receivers other than Owens. All that being said the 49ers could see some change over at the receiving position in one form or another before next season kickoffs.
Terrell Owens is clearly the star of the 49ers receiving squad and one of the primary stars on the team. Owens and Garcia have a great rhythm that lead to a sixteen touchdown season, and nearly one hundred receptions. Thereís no question that the team needs that type of performance from its top receiver. There is question about Owens though. He and coach Mariucci have had a very hard time getting along, and Owens outbursts could effect the functionality of the team. Mariucci wants to work things out with Owens this off-season, and has extended the olive branch. It doesnít stop there though. Most recently Owens has been the subject or a rumor that has him being exposed on the expansion list. Owens also dropped some key passes in several games this past season. Owens is a great player, if he could mature and fall in line with the coaching staff he could be more productive and continue to be a stronghold of the team for many years to come.
JJ Stokes was finally given his chance to shine as a 49ers receiver, but missing pre-season and playing injured for the first part of the season made his task extremely difficult. It seemed that either Stokes wasnít getting the separation for Garcia or he and Garcia simply werenít on the same wave length. Stokes level of play did not warrant what the 49ers were paying him, but he could very well be back next season as the 49ers hope that his late season surge can be the start of something great.
Tai Streets is another receiver on the 49ers roster that really hasnít lived up to the expectations placed on him. Streets was projected as one of the best receivers in his draft class, but after an injury he dropped to the sixth round. He has showed some solid flashes on the team, but hasnít showed the dominance to become a difference maker. Streets will however challenge for the second receiving spot, and with a very productive off-season it could be possible that he make that jump.
Cederick Wilson was a 49ers 2001 draft pick. Wilson did not get any significant play time this past season. We know heís quick and very raw, and where he will fit in next season is undetermined.
Vinny Sutherland is the 49ers kick returnee but also saw minimal action as a receiver. Sutherland is a fast guy who did an adequate job on special teams. The 49ers will likely bring someone in to push Sutherland for his roster spot - a spot not likely to be easily relinquished.
The 49ers have one of the best receivers in the league on their roster. Aside from his problems with Mariucci he is the ideal person to man the starting role on the 49ers squad. But the team has yet to have a legitimate threat opposite of him who Garcia was comfortable with. As a result teams were able to remove Owens from the 49ers game plans at times, and in so doing were able to shut down the 49ers offense. The 49ers must find a legitimate threat to start alongside Owens. Itís the only way they can expect Owens to be on top of his game all season. That player could come from the roster or an outside source, but must be found if the 49ers want to take their team farther into the playoffs.