Michael Crabtree needs a buddy.
The 49ers wideout finally was healthy in 2012 and finally emerged as a No. 1 receiver. What the 49ers need now is a true No. 2 so that defenses - indeed, everyone in the stadium - doesn't know where Colin Kaepernick is throwing in critical moments. (See: Super Bowl, final drive). Free agent Randy Moss was decent in that role late in the year because teams respected his speed and the 49ers used it to manipulate defenses. But he was not very productive, and three of Kaepernick's five interceptions were on passes to Moss. (The others were passes to Kyle Williams (Nov. 25) and Vernon Davis (Jan. 12)).
Would the 49ers tap a wide receiver in the first round in successive drafts? If so, these are the players they would consider. Thanks to CBS Sports' Rob Rang for helping to compile the list. He has an extensive database on all the receivers here.
Keenan Allen* Cal, 6-3, 210 Allen won't be around when the 49ers are on the board, right? Two things at least could push the physical Cal receiver in their direction. One, he is coming off a knee injury, and teams are eager to see how Allen checks out medically in Indianapolis. Two, he is not expected to be very fast in the 40-yard dash. If that landed Allen in, say, the mid 20s as far as draft, the 49ers conceivably could jump up and grab him. That would give them two starting-caliber receivers without elite deep speed. How would that work? It seemed to be perfectly fine when Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin both played for the Cardinals.
Tavon Austin West Virginia, 5-9, 175 You almost dismiss Austin off hand because of how small he is. He looks positively elfin amid even college players and you wonder how long he could last in the NFL game. But then you watch him against teams like Clemson and LSU and Oklahoma and you see his explosion and you start to change your mind. Austin also played extensively at running back, which speaks to his toughness and which makes you wonder what a creative offensive coordinator could do with him and the other talents on the 49ers roster. Austin also is an accomplished kick and punt returner, and at the very least his addition would be a big upgrade - at multiple positions - over Ted Ginn. Remember, Williams can return punts but his status at the start of the season as of now is unknown because he is coming off an ACL tear. The big question for Austin is whether he could hold up as the No. 2 receiver opposite Crabtree. His weigh-in and 40-time in Indianapolis will be critical.