Most noteworthy of the positional battles is at wide receiver. Serious injuries to key components of the offense have opened the door for players such as: A.J. Jenkins, Ricardo Lockette, Kyle Williams and Quinton Patton. The players are responding.
After returning from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for three practices, Jenkins has made several spectacular plays and is making a serious push to be the Week 1 starter opposite Anquan Boldin. Jenkins made a pair of 50-plus yard touchdown catches over the past couple of days, and has made several contested receptions using his body to shield himself away from defenders.
Perhaps the 49ers may see some return out of their first-round investment from a year ago.
Williams was listed as the starter opposite Boldin on last Friday’s depth chart and has made some spectacular catches himself, including a diving catch on a corner route and several TD catches in 7-on-7 drills early on in training camp. Even though the fourth-year wideout was listed as a starter, he has by no means locked up that position yet.
Patton seems to be on the outside looking in for the time being due to a fractured finger. However, the rookie is getting some reps on the field. Adorned in a blue jersey to stop the QB from targeting him, offensive coordinator Greg Roman has had Patton on the field in drills to keep him involved, and teammates have loved his energy so far in practice.
Lockette, 27, played for the Seattle Seahawks in 2011 where he caught two balls for 105 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown in his only NFL experience. On Tuesday, Lockette caught six passes, three of which were of the big-play variety. While he hasn’t seen much playing time in his career, he does possess excellent top-end speed and is certainly heavily involved in the wideout competition.
For the time being, this competition is still “wide” open with no one as a clear favorite. Look for everyone besides Patton to be heavily involved on Thursday against the Denver Broncos.