Developments At Receiver
September 20 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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Since the start of the season the 49ers have been surprised over and over again by their receiving squad. Unfortunately the surprising aspect of their receiving game has been its ineffectiveness. Blame it on whoever you want, but clearly the receiving game is not meeting the expectations the 49ers had for it.
Terrell Owens is constantly facing greater coverage units. As a result it takes him longer to get open, and by that time Garcia is often looking to pass elsewhere. That it takes Owens longer to get open is not as big a problem as him dropping passes that do come his way. There are some that few receivers would have held onto, but others he should have. Great receivers need to hold onto the ball, even while taking the brutal hit - Owens unfortunately has the tendency to drop the ball, and has been seen at least once turning to run with the ball, before he ever caught it (a rookie mistake). More important than getting ‘more’ open, Owens needs to focus and make the catch.
At least JJ Stokes catches the ball. He may not see a lot of balls come his way, but when they do he catches them. This of course is a pleasant surprise - the unpleasant part though, is that balls never seem to come his way. Stokes simply is too far down the progression list to make an impact in the 49ers offense. This needs to be changed. He may not break tackles and create big plays like Owens does, but Stokes if an easy to hit target that is good for chunks of yardage. The 49ers should be exploiting him.
The 49ers need to improve their play at the receiving position. Their entire offense is based on getting the receivers the ball - and they can’t afford not to do that. By getting the ball down to the receivers it will make it easier to run, and of course vice versa. The 49ers won’t start racking up the wins until they can get their offense rolling, and to do that, they need to get the ball to their receivers, and their receivers must hold onto the ball.