When the 49ers signed Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins on Aug. 2, their wide-receiving corps was in tatters. They simply needed bodies at the position. Even quarterback B.J. Daniels was taking repetitions at wideout to help the team get through an afternoon practice.
Two days later, however, four of the team's previously injured wide receivers were back in action. And the 49ers suddenly had a full house. Collie and Hawkins have been worked into mix since then, but they still mostly are working with the scout-team offenses. The question now is whether they've had enough time to impress a coaching staff that must cut 15 players from the roster Tuesday and trim it to 53 next Saturday.
The 49ers' top five wideouts appear to be: Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams, Marlon Moore, Quinton Patton and newcomer Jon Baldwin.
Collie, for one, said he'd like more opportunities but stopped well short of saying he was frustrated by the situation: "If you don't want to be on the field all the time, there's something wrong with you," the Oak Ridge High product said. "That's the nature of the beast being a wide receiver. That's the nature of the beast being a football player."
Collie started out cautiously upon joining the 49ers. He had been out of action since October while recovering from a patella tendon tear suffered when he was with the Colts. He reported steady progress over the last three weeks and said he feels like he's back to normal now. Indeed, he's looked sharp and quick at the beginning of practices this week.
"My knee's 100 percent as far as healing, as far as being ready to go," Collie said this week. "But for anyone who didn't take part in OTAs or have offseason training or anything like that, anyone who sat out that long - 10 months - it takes time."
"You're not going to come here the first day and just be as explosive as all get-out," Collie continued. "That's anybody. Whether you have an injury or not, it takes a couple of weeks to get used to playing a game."
In an attempt to accelerate A.J. Jenkins' balky progress, the 49ers' gave him a lot of practice repetitions and more snaps in the preseason than any other 49ers wideout. Jenkins was traded to Kansas City on Monday, and the 49ers obtained another receiver, Baldwin, in the move.
Asked whether the three newcomers - Collie, Hawkins and Baldwin - would get extra snaps Sunday against Minnesota, Jim Harbaugh said, "I sure would like to. They're very competitive guys and they want them. There's quite a few receivers that we have that are all healthy and chomping (sic) at the bit to get them. Hopefully that works out that way this week that our receivers all get a real good look."
The team cut one of its receivers, Ricardo Lockette, on Thursday. However, the 49ers still have 10 healthy players on the active roster. Kyle Williams said he was ready to play Sunday after missing the first two two preseason games.
- Matt Barrows