San Francisco 49ers: Position Battles Highlight Preseason Opener

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Wide Receivers

Aug 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver

Quinton Patton

(11) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

For the first time in quite a while, the 49ers have depth at the wide receiver spot. With the addition of Steve Johnson from the Buffalo Bills, the 49ers have three legitimate receivers. Last season, San Francisco had only one reliable receiver in Anquan Boldin until Michael Crabtree returned from a torn achilles.

Receivers such as Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins, and Jonathan Baldwin weren’t able to fill the gap, and consequently, the 49ers became a one dimensional team.

This season, San Francisco re-signed Boldin, Crabtree has avoided injury, and they acquired Johnson. Behind them, the 49ers also signed former 49er and New England Patriot Brandon Lloyd, drafted Bruce Ellington, and still have Quinton Patton up their sleeve from last summer’s draft.

Both Crabtree and Lloyd will not be playing in Thursday’s preseason opener, but coach Harbaugh assured Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News that the injuries are nothing too serious:

"“Maybe a week, maybe two weeks,” Harbaugh said Friday of Crabtree’s status, “and same with Brandon Lloyd.” “He’s got something he’s working through and we’re going to get it 100 percent,” Harbaugh added about Crabtree."

The injuries shouldn’t be of concern to San Francisco. Lloyd’s injury won’t hurt his chances of making the team as he has impressed in camp thus far. Some even believe Lloyd has already earned his spot.

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The minor injuries open the door for youngsters to prove their worth. Both Ellington and Patton will surely get plenty of action Thursday.

Crabtree, Boldin and Johnson will make the roster barring unforeseen circumstances, leaving two — or perhaps three — openings for Lloyd, Patton and Ellington. Regardless of how many receivers the 49ers decide to carry, the wide receiver position will be competitive.

San Francisco would love to keep all of them, but they may be forced to leave one behind, especially if they keep Kassim Osgood (the wide receiver, who is a vital part of San Francisco’s special teams unit).

Either way, it’s a good problem to have.