A.J. Jenkins SF 49ers preseason vs BroncosGenerally Jim Harbaugh’s press conferences consist of reporters trying to pry relevant information or story-ready human interest nuggets, with the 49ers’ head coach deflecting such attempts in a manner that can range from terse to gleeful. But on Sunday Harbaugh was in a mood to provide details about the position group that everyone’s asking about and fretting over: wide receiver.

Q: You mentioned a lot of different guys, WR Lavelle Hawkins, WR Austin Collie, Jenkins, are you getting any definition for those #2, #3 roles at receiver for the opener? Kind of got any definition about where things stand there as far as guys that are cemented in certain roles, those top roles next to WR Anquan Boldin?

Harbaugh: “Wouldn’t say anything is cemented, but there’s been excellent play from Anquan Boldin. [WR] Kyle Williams, we feel like we know what Kyle can do and we’ve been a little bit cautious there. I’m not going to go through every single guy, but there’s some framework there. [WR] Marlon Moore has done an excellent job. I think everybody is in a very competitive role after those three.”

Unless I’m mistaken, that quote from Harbaugh means the depth chart at wide receiver looks like this:

  • WR1: Anquan Boldin
  • WR2: Kyle Williams
  • WR3: Marlon Moore
  • WR4: ???
  • WR5: ???
  • WR6: ???

Why six receivers? That’s how many the 49ers started with last season: Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Williams, A.J. Jenkins and Ted Ginn. So unless they decide to go with one fewer running back on the 53-man than the seven they started with last year (including fullback Bruce Miller), five of the following receivers won’t be on the roster after Aug. 31 (preseason statistics in parentheses).

Austin Collie (3 receptions, 31 yards): A safe choice because he’s the most productive NFL wideout of this group (by far). His concussion history is a sticking point among fans, but the 49ers are worried about short-term production during a desperate time. If they think Collie will get open for Colin Kaepernick, he’ll make the team.

Practice Squad Eligible: No

Chad Hall (4 receptions, 59 yards): He’s shown a knack for making plays during practices and (exhibition) games, as Hall leads all 49ers wideouts in yards after the first two games of the preseason.

Practice Squad Eligible: No

Lavelle Hawkins (2 receptions, 20 yards): B.J. Daniels found him a couple times on Friday, but he also dropped two passes against Denver.

Practice Squad Eligible: No

Chuck Jacobs (4 receptions, 55 yards, 1 TD): Here’s an undrafted free agent who shows flashes of awesomeness during practice and caught the team’s only touchdown pass of the preseason. Do the 49ers think Jacobs is consistent enough in his route running and blocking to give him a roster spot? Probably not, but he seems like a perfect opportunity squad candidate.

Practice Squad Eligible: Yes

A.J. Jenkins (1 reception, 11 yards, 1 fumble lost): Harbaugh also mentioned during Sunday’s press conference that Jenkins will get some looks as a kickoff returner this week. From what I’ve seen, Jenkins isn’t the best at catching punts or kickoffs during practice. However, that’s based on a small sample size and Harbaugh also brought up how far LaMichael James has progressed as a punt returner in just a year’s time. Jenkins hasn’t found a way to produce, and he always seems to be falling down whenever the ball comes his way. His speed and hands mean something’s there, but without Crabtree and Manningham around the 49ers don’t have the luxury of being able to stash a project on the roster in hopes he’ll figure things out.

Practice Squad Eligible: Yes

Ricardo Lockette (no receptions): He made a special teams tackle against the Broncos, but time is probably running out for the speedster who roomed with Kaepernick when the two worked out in Atlanta.

Practice Squad Eligible: Yes

Quinton Patton makes a one-handed catch

Quinton Patton makes a one-handed catch

Kassim Osgood (3 receptions, 34 yards): Osgood followed up an outstanding all-around game against Denver with a forgettable effort (2 targets, no catches, no special teams tackles) in Kansas City. Osgood only caught 16 passes for 163 yards over his last eight seasons. He has value on special teams, another area where the 49ers need help … but they’d probably have to carry seven receivers to make room for Osgood.

Practice Squad Eligible: No

Quinton Patton (no receptions): Patton is allowed to catch passes now after dealing with an injury to his left hand, which means we’ll probably see him play against Minnesota.

Practice Squad Eligible: Yes

I’m guessing Boldin, Williams, Moore, Collie, Jenkins and Patton will make the 53-man, with Jacobs (and perhaps Lockette) getting named to the practice squad. But Hall or even Jacobs could force their way onto the roster over the next two weeks if they play well enough during practices and the last two preseason games.

Harbaugh also said this on Sunday: “Football hasn’t changed since its inception. Best players make the team.”