How 49ers wide receivers have significantly different look this season originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has always preached that size and height aren't the most important traits that he is looking for in a receiver but that didn't preclude the team from adding quite a few taller players to the receiving corps.
During training camp in 2018, the average size of the wide receiver group was just shy of 5-foot-9 and-a-half (5-foot-.946 inches). As the team heads into phase three of OTAs less than one year later, the average height of the group is almost four inches taller at nearly 6-feet and one-half inch (6-foot-.037 inches).
Shanahan repeatedly has said that it's about a receiver's ability to get separation more than his height. The 49ers struggled in the red zone last season but Shanahan remained steadfast in believing that acquiring a big-bodied receiving threat just for that purpose would be counterproductive. Getting a player who can do more than just that is key.
"If his only elite trait is size, you can only put him in at the 5-yard line to throw a jump ball," Shanahan said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We need good receivers, and they come in all shapes and sizes."
The 49ers leading wide receiver in 2018 was Kendrick Bourne (6-foot-1) who finished the season with 42 receptions for 487 yards and four touchdowns. Dante Pettis ( 6-foot-1) ranked second with 27 receptions for 467 yards and five touchdowns.
Shanahan has had his experience with talented, big-bodied receivers like Falcons star Julio Jones, and would like to have one again if the opportunity came up. But he also argued that being successful without that type of player is possible.
"If there's a Julio available and you have the opportunity to get him, you go get him," Shanahan said. "It's worth it. Whatever the price is, whatever the draft pick is, go get him. There aren't too many Julios on this planet. But you don't have to have that to be successful.
"Where people make mistakes is when they say, ‘We need a big tall red zone target like Julio,' and then you go pay everyone else in the world who I can promise you isn't Julio. Yeah, you've got that big guy, but it's got to be the right guy. You don't go, ‘Hey we need a big guy.'"
Proof that height is not the be-all, end-all of a receiver is a member of the 49ers coaching staff. Wes Welker (5-foot-9) was a very productive receiver in the NFL, racking up 903 catches for 9,924 yards and 50 touchdowns in his 12-year career.
Now, only time will tell if this taller group of wide receivers will be more productive than the previous group. Obviously, the return of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will affect their productivity as well.
Here's a look at the heights of all the current 49ers wideouts.