Positional Analysis 01/12/01
logo.jpg (11350 bytes)

The 49ers have been very fortunate with their receivers over the past two decades, particularly in the recent years when they had the great trio of Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens and JJ Stokes. This coming season will likely see some changes to the trio as Jerry Rice in all likelihood has played his last game in a 49ers' uniform. Terrell Owens and JJ Stokes would hate to see Rice go, but relish for the day when their names will be announced with the starting team. Meanwhile Tai Streets will be returning from his second leg injury looking to make an impact.

Jerry Rice, the best receiver ever to play the game of football will be dismissed from the 49ers after June first barring a drastic change in the 49ers, and his plans. While many of us would much rather see Rice retire, he wants to play more, and wont have that hard a time finding a job else where. With the amount of money Rice would command to return, Rice's age, and the 49ers salary cap troubles, Bill Walsh will let Jerry Rice follow in the footsteps of Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, and Roger Craig.

Terrell Owens made a huge step into stardom this season. Not only did he steal the show at Chicago game, setting a new NFL record for receptions in a game. Terrell Owens break out season is exactly what the 49ers were hoping for when they drafted him. Fans have long been waiting for Owens to establish himself in the NFL, and with this years' Pro Bowl nomination, he seems to have done exactly that.

JJ Stokes has been getting frustrated with the 49ers. Constantly forced into the third string role, Stokes was beginning to think re-signing with the 49ers was a mistake. Stokes will welcome the chance to play regularly, and the 49ers should be thrilled with having him waiting in the wings. Last season Stokes averaged four yards after being touched by a defender (second best on the team), and averaged a team high 17.5 yards per catch. Though Stokes did not have many receptions this season as he split time with Tai Streets, Stokes was clearly a big play man when on the field. An amazing twenty-seven of Stokes' thirty receptions were for first downs. Stokes should compliment Owens on the starting offense very nicely.

Tai Streets finally saw some real field time this past season. As a rookie, he was held to the injured reserve for most of the season with as he rehabbed an Achilles injury. His first active season was productive with the 49ers, but an injury towards the end of the season may delay his development this off-season. In any case, Streets is a quick and big receiver that supplies the 49ers with a solid third threat.

Kevin Williams is the 49ers fifth receiver. As the primary kick returner, Williams showed reliable hands, but not the ability to make big plays. In minimal action at the receiver position, Williams was also rather ineffective. The 49ers will likely look elsewhere this season for a kick returner and as such Williams will likely be released.

With the departure of Rice and Williams, the 49ers will have room to add one or two more receivers. They would like to add a real speed demon to return kicks. That player will likely come from the draft. The fifth receiver mainly for depth could very well be an undrafted free agent or Dwight Carter, a practice squad player from this season.

Talk about it in the 49ers Forum

fball.jpg (6395 bytes)fball.jpg (6395 bytes)