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August 19, 2013
On paper, Baldwin everything 49ers seeking in a starting WR


Jon Baldwin stands over 6-4, weighs 230 pounds, has a 42-inch vertical leap and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds in 2011. You can see why the Chiefs used a first-round pick on him that year and why the 49ers feel he just might be a fit in their still-fuzzy receiving corps.

"If he works out, they've got a huge receiving group," NFL Films' Greg Cosell said of Baldwin and the team's only sure-fire starter, Anquan Boldin, who weighs 220 pounds. Cosell suspects that the always-serious and ultra professional Boldin was one of the reasons the 49ers decided to trade for Baldwin: The 24-year-old receiver is full of talent but could use a strong mentor.

"When I watched him on film coming out of Pitt, he looked like he could be a Vincent Jackson-type receiver," Cosell said. "He's a big, physical kid who moves well."

Cosell, of course, noted that Baldwin never flourished in Kansas City. His game against the 49ers Friday was a microcosm of his career. He had one blatant drop of an Alex Smith pass. He stumbled on Smith's only deep attempt of the evening and the throw fell incomplete.

If it wasn't clear before, it's in neon lights now - A.J. Jenkins was not one of the top six wide receivers on the 49ers training camp roster and his chances of making the team were dubious. The question now becomes, will Baldwin's future be any better?

Jim Harbaugh indicated on Sunday that three receivers are in the lead for roster spots: Boldin, Kyle Williams and Marlon Moore, who, along with Boldin, has started the last two games. Rookie Quinton Patton also is likely to win a spot.

Baldwin is one of seven other receivers who are competing for the remaining one or two roster openings. The others are Chad Hall, Austin Collie, Kassim Osgood, Lavelle Hawkins, Ricardo Lockette and rookie Chuck Jacobs.

Ideally, the 49ers would complement Boldin with a fleet-footed receiver like he had in Baltimore with Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. Baldwin definitely has the speed. He averaged 16.3 yards a catch opposite Dwayne Bowe last year in Kansas City.

One of Jenkins' criticisms, meanwhile, is that he was slight of frame and did not hold up well to press coverage. Indeed, Jenkins spent much of his 49ers practices on the grass after being knocked down, sometimes by phantom contact. That should not be an issue for Baldwin, who is built like a tight end and who will look up to only one 49ers receiver, the 6-5 Osgood.

Still, he started seven games for the Chiefs last year and had only 20 catches. One of the factors: The Chiefs had one of the worst quarterback situations in the league last year, which prompted them to trade for Alex Smith this season.

Baldwin is expected to arrive tonight and will not take part in the 49ers' afternoon practice.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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