Editor’s note: Insider Matt Maiocco will be providing position-by-position breakdowns each day leading up to 49ers training camp, which opens with their first full-squad practice on Saturday.
Who they have: Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, DeAndre Smelter, Bruce Ellington, Quinton Patton, Jerome Simpson, Dres Anderson, DeAndrew White, Chuck Jacobs, Issac Blakeney, DiAndre Campbell, Mario Hull
Who they lost: Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, Brandon Lloyd, Kassim Osgood, Trindon Holliday, Lance Lewis
Looking back: Once again, Boldin proved to be the only reliable wide receiver for the 49ers. Boldin eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in both of his seasons with the 49ers. Crabtree managed just one 1,000-yard season in his six years with the club. He looked slow, as he managed a career-low 10.3 yards per reception. The 49ers did not get much from veteran acquisitions Johnson or Lloyd, as they combined for just 49 catches and 729 yards. The 49ers did not have a speed element at wide receiver for which defenses had to account.
Overall outlook: Smith was the player the 49ers wanted in free agency, and they got him with a five-year, $40 million contract. The 49ers finally have a speed threat on the outside, and that should help Boldin on the other side, as well as tight end Vernon Davis. The 49ers will look to get production from Patton and/or Ellington, a couple of draft picks who were pushed down the depth chart last year due to the additions of the veteran players.
Camp competition: Boldin and Smith appear set as the starters. But the No. 3 job is wide open. Patton was the 49ers’ No. 3 as a rookie in the playoffs following the 2013 regular season. But he tumbled down the depth chart last season and suited up for only the final four games of the season. Ellington, who won the job as the team’s return specialist last year, showed some promise as a slot receiver. Off-the-field issues kept Simpson out of the league last season. In 2013, he caught 48 passes for 726 yards with the Minnesota Vikings. The final spot among the wideouts could be a strong competition between a couple of impressive undrafted players, Anderson and White.
Bottom line: Why the 49ers would sign Lloyd last season was a bit of a head-scratcher. It was also strange that the 49ers would surrender a fourth-round pick for Johnson and then cut him after one season. This year, the 49ers appear to be determined to get younger and faster. Although they have avoided drafting the top-flight wide receivers since spending a first-round pick on A.J. Jenkins, the 49ers have added some promising mid-round talent. Smelter is not likely to make an impact this season, but this could be the year Patton steps up and makes a solid contribution. Boldin and Smith should be a good one-two punch with their differing styles that serve as a complement to one another.