Marquise Goodwin continues to headline the best 49ers’ WR class in years

Perceived weakness has emerged as one of the club’s best position groups

Tommy Call
August 02, 2018 - 2:21 pm

Day 7 of 49ers training camp was sloppy. Balls hit the ground. There were penalties. Many veterans got the day off. Guys look tired and dinged up, but one thing is starting to ring truer by the day — this wide receiver group is legit. Marquise Goodwin and the rest of the group stood out again today.

When free agency opened, wide receivers stacked the wish list of many 49ers fans, but now, only seven days into training camp the receivers are rivaling the defensive line for the 49ers best position group.

One hit the 49ers WR group has taken is their lack of a No. 1 receiver, but there are a few things wrong with that.

One, Garoppolo has shown during his brief time in New England and Santa Clara that he doesn’t need a go-to receiver to be successful, an attribute many top-quarterbacks possess.

Look at Tom Brady. He’s made a large group of different receivers look good and fit his playing style — a skill Garoppolo is beginning to show.

Two, Kyle Shanahan’s offense is at its best when the ball is being spread around. Shanahan likes to put guys in space, put players in motion to create mismatches and confusion, and if the defense is keying on one guys specifically, that takes away a mismatch.

Three, Goodwin might be turning into that star number wide receiver 49ers’ fans covet so much.

Everyday in camp he makes a splash play. It’s not just his speed, it’s not just his rapport with Garoppolo, it’s that plus more. He’s developing an inside-out game, where he’s going over the middle.

Another improvement that’s becoming more and more noticable is his footwork. He beat several defensive backs off the line of scrimmage on Thursday with just his footwork alone. In today’s one-on-one session he toasted a defensive-back off the line strictly using his footwork.

Within three to four yards, Goodwin was waving his hand in the air calling for the deep ball. The play resulted in a wide-open touchdown. That was the first of a few touchdowns Goodwin grabbed. He caught a deep touchdown down the sideline in the 11-vs-11 team scrimmage from Garoppolo  that looked to be about a 70-plus yard strike.

The best play of the day came in the second session of 11-vs-11 when Garoppolo lofted another deep pass to Goodwin, but this time he had corner Ahkello Witherspoon hanging on him with safety Adrian Colbert coming from over the top.

Goodwin was able to hang in the air to pull in an acrobatic catch splitting both defensive backs for a 50-yard gain. Witherspoon and Colbert are no slouches and seemed quite surprised Goodwin was able to real that ball in.

This seems to be the case every practice and something that shouldn’t slow down once the real games start. Whether it’s Goodwin’s chemistry with Garoppolo, his Texas connection with Shanahan or just finally having some confidence, it’s working.

Rookie Dante Pettis got more reps with the ones on Thursday with Pierre Garcon receiving a veterans day off. It’s a positive for the rookie, who’s being looked at Shanahan’s ultimate chess piece in this offense.

Whatever you hear about Pettis from this camp just remember Shanahan was his biggest fan coming out of the draft, enough to trade up to select him out of Washington passing on receivers who were higher rated by draftniks.  That should say alot about what Shanahan sees in Pettis.

Outside of Goodwin, Garcon and Pettis, the 49ers have serious depth at the position, an attribute they haven’t had in years.

Trent Taylor returned to practice recently after starting on the PUP. He’s ramping things up slowly, but we all remember how he trended up at the end of last season. Kendrick Bourne, Richie James and Aldrick Robinson are all battling to get into the fold at receiver as well.

With all this depth and excitement at receiver, (we haven’t mentioned second year tight-end George Kittle who has tools similar to Jason Witten and Rob Gronkowski — no, that’s not an overstatement) and another guy who is expected to bring something to the passing game in free-agent acquisition Jerick McKinnon.

Add the receivers mentioned above with McKinnon, Kittle, Garoppolo and you have Shanahan pulling the strings this is the best receiving group Santa Clara has seen in years.

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