Not too long ago, San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh called new wide receiver Randy Moss the team's "best receiver right now" (as I discussed here). Despite sitting out last season and failing to put up a dominant season since his time with the New England Patriots, Moss has been impressive in camp, both in performance and attitude, but Harbaugh has chosen to take back his earlier statement and instead proclaim a message that promotes equality and competition.
At the team's camp-opening press conference, he claimed that five receivers are tied for the honor. Instead of sticking to his initial proclamation of Moss' No. 1 status, Harbaugh mentioned five veterans in the mix for the No. 1 receiver title: Moss, Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Ted Ginn Jr., and Kyle Williams.
"What we have here on this team, really, we've got five guys who are No.1 receivers as we go into camp," Harbaugh said. "It will still play out what the roles are, who the starters are, who the backups, the contributors. We've got five guys tied for first."
While Harbaugh's comments show his wavering opinions and confidence in the 49ers' receiving core, the 49ers will be lucky to have one definite No. 1 wide receiver by the start of the season. Lacking a top wideout since the days of Terrell Owens, the 49ers have looked to improve the wide receiver core for years. After signing Moss and Manningham as well as drafting A.J. Jenkins, who was left off Harbaugh's list and has struggled during the offseason program, it is clear that the 49ers do not have a group filled with No. 1 talent pass-catchers.
Instead of what Harbaugh said, it is fairer to say that the 49ers are unsure as to who will be their top wide receiver in Week 1. With several changes at the position and uncertainties as to how players will perform, there are only two players who could become the team's No. 1 wideout this season.
Even though they were included on the list, eliminate Ginn and Williams. Ginn is the team's likely No. 4 wide receiver and is the team's return specialist. Williams will likely be one of the last people to make the roster and is best suited in a backup role as a slot receiver and special teams returner.
Manningham could be a surprise depending on how he connects with quarterback Alex Smith, but it will likely be down to incumbent Crabtree and Moss. While Moss may turn out to be the more dangerous wide receiver at the end of camp, Crabtree appears to be the safest and more likely No. 1 wide receiver for the 49ers this season until Moss can return to the level of play that made him one of the most dynamic players the league has ever seen.
Harbaugh: 49ers open camp with five No. 1 receivers, CSN Bay Area
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