49ers' bigger receivers offer more mismatches on field originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The 49ers' new bigger, burlier receiving group could allow Kyle Shanahan new ways to scheme against opposing defenses.
The average height of the 49ers' six receivers that made the initial 53 man roster is 6-foot-1 and a half. That is exactly five inches taller than Shanahan’s 2018 wideout roster that averaged 5-foot-8 and a half.
Of course, the group cannot rely on their size alone, but it could give the offense an advantage on the field.
“By no means do I ever say, ‘Hey, we need six guys who are all over this weight’ or six guys who are this or that,” Shanahan said on Wednesday. “You just try to get the best six possible. It's probably one of the bigger groups that I have ever had, just as far as everyone being that size and there are some advantages to that.”
After missing the past two seasons due to injury, Jalen Hurd is set to make his NFL debut. John Lynch and Shanahan are hoping the 6-foot-5 receiver is able to finally maximize his potential on the field. The former running back should offer more options for the head coach in his offensive scheme.
Hurd played nearly 30 snaps in the final exhibition against the Las Vegas Raiders and was eased back in the next few practices. The hope is that the receiver stays healthy enough to be a versatile weapon by Week 1. While Lynch reported that the goal wasn’t specifically to find bigger receivers, it was part of the club adapting to how the position has changed.
“I just think at receiver there's a trend in the league,” Lynch said on Wednesday. “Despite all the rules, when can you do your work because of the five-yard rule where you can have contact, everybody tries to get really physical within those five yards.
“So, you better have the strength necessary to pull away from people. And we probably focused on separators early on, but if they don't have that requisite power that's difficult. What we love is strong, physical, powerful players who can also separate. I know a lot's been said about this group, but I really like what this group can become.”
Outside of Mohamed Sanu, the group is young and has a lot to prove. Both Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk hit the ground running in their rookie seasons and now need to prove they can perform consistently on the field. Jauan Jennings, like Hurd is making his NFL debut after missing a season due to injury.
It might be Trent Sherfield’s fourth season in the league, but most of his experience has been as a special teams standout. In his three years with the Arizona Cardinals, the Vanderbilt product appeared in 44 games, catching 28 of his 48 targets while on the field for 679 offensive snaps. The wideout was also on the field for 504 special teams plays.
“They have to go do it, but I think we can play a lot of different styles with this group,” Lynch said. “We can play bully ball and get after you, but these guys are also guys who there’s speed in there, there’s playmakers in there. So, I like the versatility of the group and I'm excited about where we are heading into the season.”