49ers training camp questions: Which wide receivers will earn spots?


Editor's Note: This is the fourth installment in a five-part series on the 49ers' key competitions during training camp. Today, we focus on the wide receivers.

The 49ers expect their back-to-back second-round draft picks to play major roles in the team's passing game this season.

After Dante Pettis and Deebo Samuel, competition during 49ers camp, beginning this week, will determine playing time and roster spots among the team's wide receivers.

The 49ers might lack a true, stereotypical No. 1 option, but they have a number of players capable of keeping defenses honest and their own offense balanced.

Pettis is expected to take a leap this season after finishing his rookie campaign strong. He will be a starter. Samuel's starting job is not wrapped up, but he looks NFL-ready and is expected to make an impact in his first season.

Speedster Marquise Goodwin had a big 2017 season before struggling with injuries and inconsistency last season. Goodwin started 24 of the 27 games in which he has appeared the past two seasons, but Shanahan views him more as a role player who can be more effective with fewer snaps.

Rookie Jalen Hurd has promise, but he likely is a player who will take some time to develop after converting from running back for his final college season.

Kendrick Bourne and Jordan Matthews are perhaps the two players who have the most at stake in the lead-up to the 49ers' regular-season opener Sept. 8 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bourne and Matthews could end up in major roles in the offense. But, it is equally possible either player could find himself on the wrong side of the bubble when Shanahan settles on his initial 53-man roster to open the season.

Bourne, 23, enters his third NFL season after leading the team's wideouts in 2018 with 42 catches for 487 yards and four touchdowns. He made the roster as an undrafted rookie in 2017, and showed promise while starting eight games.

Matthews, 27, has seen his production drop due to a number of injuries after his career promisingly began with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2017 and '18 with the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia, Matthews played in 24 games and caught a combined 45 passes for 582 yards and three touchdowns.

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Matthews has distinguished himself throughout his career with his ability to thrive in the red zone -- an area in which the 49ers struggled mightily last season. In his first two seasons, Matthews registered 16 touchdown receptions.

Bourne and Matthews are best-suited for the Z position (split end), so it is likely  one will earn a major role in the offense and the other will receive some bad news next month.

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