Stokes Primed For Return
October 30 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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JJ Stokes may finally be ready to return to the football field after a three week absence. But will he start? During Stokes absence, receive Tai Streets has stepped into the secondary receiving role, and has raised the output level significantly from that position.
With Streets in the offense, the 49ers seem to be able to move the ball at will. The passing game has come alive, and the offense in general looks more aggressive. Streets has taken the position up a notch and may have won the position away from Stokes.
Stokes will likely be ready to play in some capacity this Sunday against the Raiders. Mariucci however has not decided how the 49ers will use him. "We'll make that decision, if we need to, later on, right now, we're trying to get J.J. back healthy and get him back in the lineup. We've got to decide what's best for us all the way around, J.J. is a fine receiver and he was our starter, but we've got to work all of them.”
What’s interesting about Mariucci’s comments is that he says “[Stokes] was our starter”, not ‘Stokes is our starter, he just happens to be injured’ so Mariucci must see the effectiveness of Streets in the offense. Upon Stokes return, the team will likely go to many three receivers sets, especially if tight end Eric Johnson remains injured. Another possibility would be to try Stokes at tight end for a game, and see how he handles that position.
Stokes is more than likely going to be ready for this weeks game against the Raiders, but the 49ers can’t afford to let him take Streets out of the offense. Streets has helped the offense reach an explosiveness it hasn’t seen in years, and so taking him out of the offense would likely prove futile.