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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Former 49ers player seemingly calls out team for being “afraid to let guys compete”

Marc Adams
May 4, 2024 at 6:34 PM

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It's not uncommon for a player to be frustrated with his lack of playing time. The San Francisco 49ers have their share of players who complained, usually after leaving the team, about how they were underused or weren't given the opportunities to showcase their skills. You can add former 49ers wide receiver Willie Snead IV to that list.

On Friday, Snead shared his frustration on social media, writing, "All I want is to go back to a team that isn't afraid to let guys compete for a roster spot. These last 3 years been nothing short of entitlement…Competition breedz Champions." It's unclear what Snead was referring to when he said the past three years were "nothing short of entitlement."

Since he mentioned the past three years, Snead seems to be aiming this in the direction of the 49ers, and perhaps also the Carolina Panthers and Las Vegas Raiders. Snead played for the Panthers and Raiders in 2021, then for the 49ers in 2023. How did he fare in those three seasons? About as well as you might guess.

In 2021, Snead appeared in nine games with Carolina and Las Vegas. He had four catches for 38 yards. Then in 2022 and 2023, while with the 49ers, Snead appeared in a combined eight games, hauling in a measly two catches for 14 yards. He did not play in any of the 49ers' postseason games.

But perhaps the biggest issue is that when the team dealt with injuries at wide receiver during his two seasons in San Francisco, the 49ers chose to go with other players like Chris Conley and Ronnie Bell rather than with Snead. That is either an indictment of his current ability or perhaps he simply wasn't what the 49ers coaching staff needed him to be.

He's not without his supporters, though. Bay Area media member, Larry Krueger, responded to Snead's social media rant, saying, "I'm a major Willie Snead fan, and I know exactly what he's talking about. When the Niners were desperate for a WR to be up on gamedays over the last 2 seasons, they opted for Willie over Gray, Martin, Bell, etc and he delivered, but now they don't have a roster spot for him and these other guys are still getting camp spots. It's a rough biz. Willie can still play. I hope he finds a spot. Killer dude. A pros pro and a Straight shooter."

Krueger is right that Snead is a pro's pro, but did he deliver for the 49ers when he had his chances? In 2022, Snead had no catches and no targets in four games. In 2023, Snead had two catches and three targets. Of course, receiving is only one part of his job. In Kyle Shanahan's offense, wide receivers are also required to block. But Snead's lack of playtime seems to suggest he wasn't overly effective at that part of his game, either.

Snead later followed up his post with another, saying, "In the words of my great friend, [George Kittle], ima keep playing until they kick me out the league. I love what I do. I still have too much gas in the tank & passion in my heart. It's a blessing to be a part of this league."

It sounds as though Snead will continue his NFL journey. He deserves another shot. It just won't likely be with the 49ers.
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