Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers


49ers Wide Receivers: Who Makes The Cut?

Jason Aponte
Sep 2, 2020 at 10:13 AM


With a strange training camp concluding this past week, which included limited information and coverage, I have decided to try and make sense of the 49ers wide receiver group.

Before we go any further, I have no sources or inside information. If it sounds like I'm pinning yarns from picture to picture in a room, it's because we all sort of have to. Grab your tinfoil hat, and let's make some predictions.

The Locks:


Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor.

Even with both Samuel and Aiyuk recovering from injuries, there's no discussion about their roster status. The same goes for Kendrick Bourne, who Kyle Shanahan has stated has been "the best receiver in camp." Say what you want about Trent Taylor's recent injuries, it's clear by all accounts that he is Jimmy Garoppolo's third-down target.

Who will start Week One? Well, I have a prediction for that as well. Deebo, Aiyuk, and Bourne are the starters with Taylor and even (wait for it) Jordan Reed sprinkling in from the slot. How much Deebo will be on the field will be the question, but training camp reports have him sprinting and walking with no limp. Sprinting and cutting are two different things, and Samuel will have to show the team he can cut normally.

Brandon Aiyuk has been battling a hamstring issue, and although hamstrings aren't anything to dismiss, I suspect he'll be good to go against Arizona. Aiyuk will have to fill the Emmanuel Sanders role immediately, and you would be hard-pressed to find a beat writer who wasn't impressed with him in his first camp.

Kendrick Bourne is now the leader of this room in terms of experience and will be asked to help lead this group. Bourne is so vital on third down and in the red zone. These four were easy to pick as roster locks.

The Rest:


Dante Pettis, Jauan Jennings, Richie James, Tavon Austin, Kevin White

Now comes the tough part. Austin and White have first-round draft pedigree, Pettis was drafted in the second round, while Jennings and James were selected in the seventh round.

White has never scored a touchdown at this level. His career has been wrecked by injuries. Austin has developed into a gadget player after an electric college career. Seriously, go watch his college film. It's a blast.

The 49ers traded up for Pettis, but after a strong finish to 2018, he never was a factor for the team in 2019.

Jauan Jennings profiles as a big slot in the Shanahan offense, not a burner or separator, but someone you don't want to bring down after the catch. Richie James, unfortunately, spent time on the COVID-19 list and is on the active/non-football injury list currently.

I've stalled long enough. Pettis has the highest draft capital invested, and I've contended all offseason that cutting Pettis after two years admits a huge mistake by this front office. To his credit, Pettis has flashed that potential in camp that made us all excited for his sophomore season. In my opinion, he's done enough to make this roster. Even hearing Pettis speak about his reception to Kyle Shanahan's coaching was an eye-opener. People underestimate how mentally tough players need to be. Sounding like he's in a better space with confidence puts him right in the mix as the WR 4-5 on certain weeks.

Tavon Austin and Richie James are nearly identical as far as what they offer this team: speed and gadget plays with experience in the punt return game. This roster isn't big enough for the both of them, though. The best ability is availability, and that gives the edge to Austin.

The final spot goes to Kevin White. Call me crazy, but I'm betting Kyle thinks he can unlock the measurables that made evaluators crazy about his potential. Jennings has struggled in camp, and the team most likely believes he'll make it to the practice squad.

As crazy as 2020 has been, I never believed I'd type that Kevin White would make the 49ers roster. Here's to an unpredictable year!
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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