The 49ers released their initial depth chart this week, and Kyle Williams was listed as the starting wideout opposite Anquan Boldin. But even Williams said the designation was a bit fuzzy. "It really doesn't matter who's starting," he said. "We're all going to be in there making plays."
Like the beginning of last season, when Williams, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and Ted Ginn all received snaps opposite Michael Crabtree, there likely will be plenty of platooning opposite Anquan Boldin this year. The others in the mix are Marlon Moore, Quinton Patton and newcomer Jon Baldwin, although Baldwin is a strong candidate to be one of the eight inactive players Sunday.
Moore started all four preseason games; Williams, recovering from an ACL tear, didn't play in the preseason. Moore also seems to be the wideout who has taken over Moss' role in packages that call for a lone wide receiver. Moss typically would run a "go" or a post route, taking a cornerback and a safety down field with him. The 49ers, in turn, usually would hand the ball to Frank Gore.
Moore, however, is a much more rough-and-tumble player than Moss -- that's why the 49ers like him -- and he's still in the running to be one of the team's gunners on special teams. C.J. Spillman is certain to be a gunner.
"If somebody needs a blow in a certain position, I'm not just defined to one spot," Moore said. "Whatever they need me to do, I can do it - run deep, short, over the middle, run a slant. It doesn't matter."
Williams confirmed he will handle punt returns Sunday against Green Bay. The team's other punt returner, LaMichael James, is out with a knee sprain. The kickoff returner, also James' job late last season, is unknown. Rookie Quinton Patton returned the most kickoffs, three, in the preseason. He averaged 23.7 yards a return.
If Boldin and Williams are, in fact, the starting receivers Sunday, it's noteworthy that both are due to be free agents in March. Here's where things stand at the position.
Signed through 2013: Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams, Mario Manningham
Signed through 2014: Jon Baldwin, Michael Crabtree
Signed through 2015: Chris Harper (being converted to quasi-TE role)
Signed through 2016: Quinton Patton
Curious about practice-squad tight end Derek Carrier, who played at Division III Beloit College? Here's what scouting Godfather Gil Brandt wrote about Carrier prior to last year's draft. Thanks to reader Franco Mazzoli (I'm huge in Italy) for passing it along.
He was one of the five-non Wisconsin players who worked out. He probably got himself drafted Wednesday. Everyone will be headed to Beloit to study his game tape. He ran 4.50 and 4.50 in the 40, had a 38-inch vertical, 10-2 broad jump, 4.09 short shuttle, 6.70 cone drill (now, that's a fantastic cone drill), and did 15 strength lifts. Scouts think that he would be converted into a TE.
-- Matt Barrows