Jan 12, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receivers Michael Crabtree (15) and Anquan Boldin (81) on the field during the third quarter of the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers: Which Two Receivers Will Be Elite?


Recently the 49ers have earned a reputation of not being to properly develop or use wide receiver talent. While they have enjoyed success in the last few years, their passing game has been extremely lackluster. Michael Crabtree finally broke the 1000 yard barrier in 2012 after the team suffered a nine year drought. The 49ers were able to reach the milestone two years in a row after Anquan Boldin did it in 2013. Both Crabtree and Boldin’s ability to reach this mark could be attributed to the sheer number of passes that were thrown their way. The 49ers haven’t had more than one or two reliable targets for quite awhile. At least not until now.

In 2014 the 49ers will be going into the season with at least four proven targets. They will have Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Steve Johnson, and Vernon Davis ready to catch passes from Colin Kaepernick. Three out of four of those targets have already eclipsed the 1000 yard mark. With those four pass-catchers, the 49ers are more than capable of having two receivers reach 1000 yards. The only keeping it from happening is Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers’ offense.

The 49ers ranked dead last in pass attempts in 2013. For them to have two 1000 yard receivers, that number will have to rise drastically. In 2013, the Chicago Bears reached two 1000 yard receivers with the least amount of pass attempts. And they still attempted 162 more passes than the 49ers did. The philosophy of the 49ers’ offense will have to change completely for the 49ers to reach this goal. With the decline of Frank Gore this just may happen. The 49ers may transition from a hard-nosed, smash-mouth offense to a offense that relies more on Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick has been criticized about his ability to read defenses and make more than one read. He has refuted many of these claims, but until he shows consistency in the passing game, he will always have doubters. Ultimately, the weight of having two 1000 yards receivers lies on Kaepernick’s shoulders.

While the 49ers were only 150 yards away from two 1000 yard receivers last year, it may be more difficult to get that close in 2014. More weapons to use means less targets for each player. This means that Kaepernick will not have to force the ball to just two receivers throughout the year. The load will be shared throughout all of the receivers.

The 49ers definitely have the personnel and potential to have two receivers reach 1000 yards, but it all depends on how well Kaepernick progresses in the passing game, and how much the 49ers decide to actually pass the ball. With the weapons they have, they should have no problem with passing the ball more often.

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Tags: NFL San Francisco 49ers

  • Jason

    They will have two. I think this is the year for offense.

  • Travis Crouch

    They will have two couse all he can look at is craptree and Bolden even if others are open and he will try to force it to them

  • loverpoint

    I hope when the season is over that Boldin can break the 12,000 yard barrier for career receiving yards that will require 700 receiving yards and that he can have as many or more receptions as Larry Fitzgerald, Wes Welker and Steve Smith so he can stay ahead of those 3 in career receptions , 43 catches will get him to 900 career catches.
    I can see Crabtree going over 1,000 yards again since it is a contract year. I hope that they keep Brandon Lloyd , he is one of those important clutch receivers ,
    It might be sort of disappointing for Stevie Johnson because it will be difficult to go over 1,000 yard .
    They have 4 WR that know what it is like to go over 1,000 yards in receiving , Brandon Lloyd is the only one who has had a season where he led the NFL in receiving yards .
    And there are some young WR that want to prove they are capable of that milestone.

  • russbutton

    The Niners didn’t throw as much last year largely because they couldn’t sustain drives. Even Frank Gore can’t gain yards if there isn’t a hole to run through. A lot of the problem is that the Niners have consistently faced 8 and 9 man fronts, and the passing game wasn’t strong enough to counter that.

    This year they’ll have to demonstrate that they can pass effectively against an 8 man front and make big plays. When they do that, the running game will also open up and they’ll be able to better sustain drives, which will result in more passing yards as well.