Figuring out 49ers' passing-game options

September, 4, 2013
9/04/13
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There are not of lot question marks concerning the San Francisco 49ers as we approach the start of the 2013 season.

It’s no secret -- the 49ers are stacked.

However, the team must show it can get enough from its receivers as Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham recover from injuries. New addition Anquan Boldin will be the No.1 receiver while several other players, including Kyle Williams, Quinton Patton and Marlon Moore will all be in the rotational mix.

The 49ers like the potential of the receivers, but there is no denying they have to prove themselves. I checked in with ESPN analyst Matt Williamson on the subject. He thinks the key is the 49ers getting help elsewhere on the unit.

“San Francisco must get more from (tight end) Vernon Davis and LaMichael James, although I realize he is out for about three weeks with ankle injury,” Williamson said. “I see James as a very Darren Sproles-like player for this offense this season. It would be a massive help. (San Francisco coach Jim) Harbaugh certainly has the creative and sharp offensive mind to make that happen. I also could see (running back Kendall) Hunter getting more receptions as well. Davis has to step up huge and become a true No. 1 receiving option, which he is physically capable of, but few TEs can make that distinction. As for Boldin, he rarely truly gets open and instead is just terrific at battling for the ball in the air and coming down with it. Ideally, he would be my third target, but unfortunately, San Francisco probably will not have that luxury. I do expect them to have an elite ground game again.”


It will be interesting to see how the personality of the San Francisco passing game develops in the coming weeks. I think because of the varied abilities of the personnel, Harbaugh’s offensive brilliance and the sheer talent of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, this passing game is destined to work just fine.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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