How will 49ers' receptions spread out?

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
8:00
AM ET
A major topic for the San Francisco 49ers this offseason has been the team's plans to attempt to pass more in 2014.

They certainly have reason for trying to reach that goal. The 49ers have the best passing game weaponry since head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman joined the franchise in 2011.

The difference this year is that the 49ers are expected to have a healthy Michael Crabtree from the start of the season and they traded for the reliable Stevie Johnson.

The task for the team is to pass more and spread the ball around more often than they did the first three seasons under Harbaugh. This is the breakdown of the top three receivers for the 49ers in the past three seasons:

2013: Anquan Boldin 85 catches, Vernon Davis 52, Bruce Miller 25.

2012: Crabtree 85, Mario Manningham 42, Davis 41.

2011: Crabtree 72, Davis 67, Kyle Williams 20.

This is Johnson’s catch output in Buffalo in the past three seasons:

2013: 52 (second on team).

2012: 79 (first)

2011: 76 (first)

Johnson will likely be the fourth option for quarterback Colin Kaepernick behind Crabtree, Boldin and Davis (if he ends his holdout). Is that a problem? I think the 49ers, who rely on the run, will find a way to spread the ball around.

Someone should always be open. I think it’s natural to think the 49ers’ passing numbers will increase, although the end result may be that all the top options catch 50-70 passes instead of the major disparity seen during the first three years of the Harbaugh era.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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