The 49ers entered the 2012 season with five No. 1 receivers. They ended the campaign with only one.
So now, as Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle explains it, the Niners need a No. 2 wideout to complement Michael Crabtree.
In quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s 10 starts this season, Crabtree was targeted 94 times. That’s 55 times more than any other player.
Mario Manningham, a hero for the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI, is recovering from a torn ACL, as is Kyle Williams. Ted Ginn and A.J. Jenkins were ineffective in 2012, and Randy Moss was used extensively down the stretch but his glory days have, well, passed him by.
Jenkins, a first-round pick in 2012, could be the focal point of the team’s offseason efforts. But other option will be needed, and the Niners would be wise to wait for the free-agent market to soften before going bargain shopping.
Or maybe they’ll “evaluate” a field-stretching option like Mike Wallace. If the Niners unload Alex Smith, they’ll have the cap space to make a run at Wallace.
The only problem is that, if Wallace gets paid, Crabtree will start carping about getting a new contract.
So the smart move is to wait until late March, and then to offer up short-term deals to veterans who have slipped through the cracks.