It appears Baldwin is getting his chance to play significant minutes and perhaps start. Baldwin made his San Francisco debut in Week 4 at St. Louis, when he had two catches for 19 yards. Baldwin will be at the top of the rotation with rookie Quinton Patton out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. Patton was the No. 2 receiver before getting hurt at St. Louis.
With Mario Manningham out with an injury for another month or so and Michael Crabtree likely out until December, the 49ers need some help and Baldwin will get a chance. San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh was complimentary of Baldwin after the Rams’ game.
Baldwin was acquired by the 49ers in August from Kansas City in exchange for fellow former first-round pick A.J. Jenkins. Baldwin, the No. 26 overall pick in 2011, had a total of 41 catches for the Chiefs.
ESPN analyst Matt Williamson said he thinks Baldwin could develop in this system if he can improve his consistency. That was his biggest issue in Kansas City. He was terrific in practice, but often disappeared in games. Now that he is getting his chance in San Francisco, Baldwin has to show he came be a factor in the NFL.
“If the light is going to come on for Baldwin, I will say that it is likely under Harbaugh and in this offense,” Williamson said. “I thought Harbaugh wanted a big-time deep threat (he acquired Moss and then Jenkins last year), but he seems to have gotten away from that mold. I do know that he wants physicality at the position, including being an able run blocker. Baldwin could be effective as a big bodied guy that can do something after the catch and block.”
Baldwin’s opportunity is now. We will see if he can capitalize.