San Francisco 49ers: Can Jon Baldwin Be Counted On At WR?
In their losses to the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts in Weeks 2 and 3 of the 2013 season, one of the most glaring reasons as to why the San Francisco 49ers lost both those games was from a lack of production from the wide receiver corps. In the 49ers 35-11 win over the St. Louis Rams in Week 4, the 49ers wide receivers contributed to win as they caught eight of the 15 completed passes from Colin Kaepernick in the game.
One of the 49ers wide receivers whom caught passes last Thursday was Jon Baldwin who had two receptions for 19 yards. Those two pass catches represented the first game, which Baldwin was activated to play in so far this season. More importantly, the fact that Baldwin finally saw regular season playing time gives us an indication that he could see an increased role and more playing time going forward.
At the moment, the only legitimate threat that the 49ers have at wide receivers is Anquan Boldin who in the two 49ers wins has 18 receptions for 298 receiving yards and two touchdowns while in the two losses he has six total receptions for 74 yards and zero touchdowns. This points to a clear lack of a suitable No. 2 wide receiver whom has been able to step up and alleviate the reliance on expecting that Boldin and to a certain extent, tight end Vernon Davis will be able to be the only pass catching threats opposition teams need to worry about when facing the 49ers.
With that said, can Jon Baldwin be the solution, at least in the short term of being the No. 2 wide receiver that the 49ers need in order to help improve the passing attack? The answer to that question is yes, he can be and he should be. The reason he can be that temporary No. 2 wide receiver is because he appears to be the best option now that Quinton Patton is set to miss significant time with a fractured bone in his foot. Kyle Williams is still showing signs of still recovering and finding his footing coming back from an ACL injury last season while Marlon Moore appears to be nothing more than just a squad player who can play a few snaps at the wide receiver during any given time.
Jon Baldwin is the temporary solution at the wide receiver position for the 49ers because in the snaps he played, he showed that he cannot only run quality pass routes but just as importantly, in the two passes thrown in his direction, Baldwin demonstrated that he has a good pair of hands and used his body to shield a Rams cornerback in catching a pass. Showing both of these qualities on the passes thrown to him against the Rams, Baldwin demonstrated that he at least can be relied on to make a catch in traffic or with a cornerback on top of him in coverage.
The overall talent and depth of the 49ers wide receivers will not improve until Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree are activated from the injury list later on in the season. It is clear that not having either one or both reduces the number of talented pass catching weapons available to Colin Kaepernick to throw at and utilize. Until their returns to the field, Jon Baldwin did enough in his first chance of playing that he can in mean time, serve as a capable No. 2 wide receiver for the 49ers to rely on.