With Michael Crabtree out due to a torn Achilles tendon, the 49ers have only one clear-cut starting receiver. And he was playing for the other team in Super Bowl XLVII.
Behind Anquan Boldin, it’s unclear how the depth chart will shake out. The contenders got their first chance to jockey for position in a game setting on Thursday night against the Broncos.
The starter across from Boldin was Marlon Moore, another newcomer who played 14 games for the Dolphins in 2012, with two starts.
“That was based on practice,” coach Jim Harbaugh said of the decision to go with Moore, adding that the 25-year-old “made a spectacular catch” in the game and was “solid in all of his assignments.”
Second-year first-rounder A.J. Jenkins, who fumbled the ball after his only catch of the night, got a far less glowing report.
“Could have been better,” Harbaugh said of Jenkins, who could have been cut last year but for his draft pedigree.
The options at wideout include another first-year 49er, who caught two passes in his debut after four seasons with the Colts.
“It’s been a long time, felt a little foreign, but it was fun,” said Austin Collie. A solid player, his career has been plagued by concussions.
“[T]hey’ve been in the rear view mirror for a while now,” Collie said regarding his issues with head injuries.
Yet another first-year 49er, Chad Hall, made a pair of catches as he tries to become a viable option in the slot.
“It’s good to get out there full speed, game-like situations,” Hall said. “I felt like I got open a lot and the quarterbacks put it on the money when they threw it to me.”
The quarterbacks will continue throwing it to plenty of the receivers as the preseason continues, and as the coaching staff tries to figure out who deserves jobs and who deserves reps when the real games begin.