Niners need a receiver more than a QB |

Niners need a receiver more than a QB

Steve Yingling

Get ready 49er fans: Mike Nolan is going to make San Francisco the Baltimore Ravens West.

Most of the 49ers’ predraft maneuvers have been defensive-minded and Niner fans don’t need to be reminded how pitiful the offense was last year during a forgettable 2-14 season.

You would think Nolan would be determined to address his squad’s offense needs heading into Saturday’s draft, but is the ex-Ravens defensive coordinator going to fix the 49ers’ biggest weakness with the No. 1 pick?

The 49ers really need a big-play wide receiver, not a quarterback. No disrespect to Alex Smith, but he’s probably a middle to late first-rounder in any other draft over the past 10 years.

San Francisco was reportedly trying to come to terms with the Utah signal caller before making him the No. 1 pick on Saturday.

If they don’t reach an agreement, the 49ers may back their way into a better selection. They could take Michigan stud Braylon Edwards, or even better yet, former USC receiver Mike Williams.

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When you look at how pathetic the 49ers’ passing game was last year, it’s not fair to blame second-year quarterbacks Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey. The offensive provided few holes to establish a running game and defenses routinely put the 49ers in poor passing situations.

Owner John York gave former coach Dennis Erickson the keys to a 1970 Ford Maverick last year. After allowing Terrell Owens to slip away to Philadelphia, the 49ers put a core of receivers on the field that wouldn’t have started for any other NFL team.

One stat completely tells how atrocious the 49ers’ receivers were a year ago. Tight end Eric Johnson caught 24 more passes than the 49ers’ top three returning receivers – Arnaz Battle, Brandon Lloyd, Rashaun Woods – combined. And the 49ers need a quarterback?

Remember, the 49ers lost “top” receiver Cedric Wilson to free agency. After catching 47 passes for 641 yards and three touchdowns, Wilson high-tailed it out of the bay to receiver friendly Steelers. Despite signing an $8 million deal with the Steelers, Wilson likely won’t even start in Pittsburgh

If the 49ers can work out a predraft trade for their top pick, they can probably get the undervalued Williams and then start shoring up their offensive line.

Between Battle, Lloyd and Woods, the trio accounted for 868 receiving yards a year ago. Will they generate that much with a rookie quarterback behind center in the fall?

Yeah, right.

Even though Williams missed all of last season after prematurely signing with an agent, the former USC star is ready to make a name for himself in the NFL.

How quickly NFL teams have forgotten what Williams did during his freshman and sophomore seasons for the Trojans. In his brief-but-spectacular college career, Williams rose to fourth on USC’s reception list with 176 and first in touchdown catches with 30.

His sure hands, power and above average speed should make him the next star receiver in the league. Best of all, he spent the past year working on his weaknesses, not whining that he didn’t have a place to play.

No wonder the Minnesota Vikings unloaded Randy Moss to Oakland. They are confident that they’ll steal Williams with the seventh pick on Saturday.

Shame on the 49ers and anyone else who lets him get away.

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or