Two weeks after facing ex-teammate Ted Ginn, the 49ers on Monday will get a long look at another former wide receiver, Josh Morgan, who could start for the Redskins.
Whereas Ginn's storyline in Carolina is one of redemption following down a year in San Francisco in which he had only one receiving yard, Morgan's career arc appears to be going in the opposite direction. He led Washington with 48 catches last year but only has 11 this year.
Furthermore, he was inactive Sunday against the Eagles, the first time he had not been in uniform since signing a lucrative contract with the Redskins last year. The deactivation followed comments by a frustrated Morgan in which he said, "I know I didn't do anything to lose my job. So you have to really ask the coaches." Coach Mike Shanahan has said that Morgan's deactivation had nothing to do with his comments.
Shanahan today said that Morgan's receiving numbers are lower this year because Leonard Hankerson began to get more repetitions opposite starter Pierre Garcon over the last few games. "It just so happens that the quarterback's going more in the opposite direction," Shanahan said on a conference call. "It really hasn't been anything to with Josh. But it has more to do with the decisions of the quarterback."
Hankerson, however, suffered a knee injury in Sunday's loss to Philadelphia and may require surgery. Shanahan stopped short of saying that Morgan would be back in a starting spot but said he'd "get a lot more playing time this week." "He will be up and hopefully be back to where he was when he was catching all those balls," Shanahan said.
Morgan, who is from Washington, D.C., was a sixth-round pick by the 49ers in 2008. He had 15 catches for 220 yards and a touchdown for the 49ers after five games in 2011, but he suffered a broken leg at the end of a blowout, 48-3 win over Tampa Bay.
Shortly after the injury, Jim Harbaugh said the 49ers would make it a "priority" to re-sign Morgan. The 49ers, however, were not willing to come close to the five-year deal with $7.5 million guaranteed that the hometown Redskins offered.
Morgan also had been handling kick-return duties prior to Sunday's benching. Apparently he's also back to being called "Josh" after requesting to go by "Joshua" during his final season with the 49ers.
- Matt Barrows