If you watched the 49ers’ heartbreaking loss to the Giants last weekend — like 57.6 million other Americans — you witnessed one of the few weak spots on the 49ers roster.
They have a shortage of good wide receivers. Plain and simple.
Not until midway through the fourth quarter did a wide receiver catch a pass from Alex Smith.
Michael Crabtree was invisible, finishing the game with one catch for three yards. Ted Ginn didn’t play because of an injured right knee, relegating Kyle Williams to punt return duty. When he wasn’t muffing punts, Williams was targeted four times, but didn’t catch a single pass.
Aside from the one completion to Crabtree, the rest of Smith’s successful passes went to tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker, and running back Frank Gore.
It’s amazing what one injury to a role player like Ginn can do to a team’s depth.
The good news is that the market is full of viable wide receiver options. At least five veteran wideouts would instantly become the No. 1 WR on the 49ers. But while all of them are extremely talented, some might not be good for Jim Harbaugh’s cherished locker-room chemistry.
This 49ers team is on the cusp of something special. High-maintenance players like DeSean Jackson or Stevie Johnson risk bringing down the team with their selfish attitudes.
I love Jackson’s big play ability and game-changing speed, but what if Alex Smith doesn’t throw the ball Jackson’s way during the first half, and Jackson pouts and stops running his routes with the precision and dedication they require?
Johnson is just too immature for this 49ers team. He’s got a lot of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco in him. He showboats too much and doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut. Harbaugh might actually feel the need to run on the field and discipline Johnson if he sees him excessively celebrating.
The 49ers need to set their sights on one of the hard-working, reliable wideouts on the market: Dwayne Bowe, Vincent Jackson and Marques Colston.
Bowe is the optimal option. He’s the youngest of the three and has the most raw talent.
Jackson is a touchdown machine, but he’s the oldest of the bunch. Reports suggest that he wants to stay in sunny San Diego with Philip Rivers.
Colston is reliable and tough. But he’s been aided by the fact that Drew Brees has been his quarterback. It’s safe to say that Alex Smith will never be Drew Brees.
If the 49ers come away with either Bowe or Colston, it will have been a successful offseason no matter what else they do. They are a few tweaks away from being a perennial favorite in the NFC.
Add a couple wide receivers and possibly upgrade the quarterback position, and the 49ers can hold their ticker-tape parade from Market Street all the way to Santa Clara.