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Stokes vs Streets
October 23 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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The debate between who should start opposite Terrell Owens has been raging ever since Tai Streets has been healthy enough to take the field. Should it be Stokes, who has proven to be reliable, and to have the best hands on the team, or should it be the younger Streets, who in his limited opportunity has proven to have good hands, and more speed to get open, and stretch the field. Each receiver has their proís and conís and through the through analysis below, I attempt to answer the age old question.

JJ Stokes
Advantages- I donít think it can be argued that when a ball is thrown to JJ Stokes, he catches it more often than any other receiver on the roster. His size, and huge hands rarely let him drop the ball, and his experience and command at the position have taught him to run effective routes, particularly to the sideline. Stokes, because of his height advantage is almost always open for a higher pass. His experience within the system has allowed him to perfect the little aspects of his game, like working back to the quarterback, or giving the quarterback enough room to put the ball in between the sidelines and the receiver. Heís also a tremendous blocker down field.

Disadvantages - Stokes is not the fastest guy on the team, and relies on his size more than his speed to get separation. As a result, he doesnít appear open as often and thus doesnít see as many balls come his way. While Stokes has come up with a number of big plays in his career, he has never given the 49ers the downfield or explosive threat to take the heat off of Owens. He has certainly had his big games, but for the most part, his play is consistent and held to first down receptions at most.

Tai Streets
Advantages- Streets is fast. By far, that is his big asset to the team. His speed helps create separation, and gives the 49ers a threat down field. His speed also gets him separation which is recognized better by the quarterback as him being open. His speed also gives the 49ers a few more options in terms of the reverse pass. Streets help the 49ers offense become more vertical in its passing game, and thus the offense appears more potent. His speed, and reliability has also shown some potential to take pressure off of Terrell Owens as was seen in Owenís first quarter touchdown against the Saints, where they chose to double team Streets as opposed to Owens.

Disadvantages - Streets biggest disadvantage is his lack of experience as a primary receiver. While running regular patterns he is fine, but he needs to improve in working back to the quarterback on Ďbustedí plays and in improvising. Streets is a fairly good downfield blocker, but isnít as good as Stokes in this department. He also needs to work on some of the spacing in his patterns, particularly in giving the quarterback room to get the ball between him and the sideline on longer passes.

While Iíll let you draw your own conclusions as to who should start opposite Owens, my vote has to go for Streets. I firmly believe that the offense is more potent with him as a starter, and I believe that if he continues to play he will improve on his few Ďconí areas. As he plays more, teams will also start to loosen up the coverage on Owens a little bit, and that would be a tremendous help to the offense. Stokes should be given one final game in the position to try and hold onto his spot, but if his performance, or rather the offenses performance simply appears better with Streets in the position, the team should make the switch. Streets still has an upside, where Stokes may have reached his full potential, it seems that after the two week audition for Streets he has given the 49ers enough to consider that they will have a very touch decision to make when Stokes is back at 100%.

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