Wide receiver is not a position of strength for the 49ers.
Although San Francisco arguably boasts the best receiving weapon in the NFC West in tight end George Kittle (1,377 yards, eighth in NFL last season), their wide receivers weren't nearly as productive in 2018. Injuries slowed Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, Pierre Garcon and Trent Taylor, while 23-year-old Kendrick Bourne played his way into a bigger role in the absence of some -- and sometimes most -- of his peers.
Jimmy Garoppolo's torn ACL didn't help matters, either, but Bourne, Pettis and Goodwin combined for 28 fewer receiving yards than Kittle. Pettis and Goodwin missed four and five games, respectively, but neither's per-game averages would have resulted in more than 650 receiving yards over the course of a 16-game season.
The 49ers' receiving corps is young and promising, but you won't find any of its members among the five best receivers in the NFC West. Here's a look at the top five ahead of the 2019 season:
Brandin Cooks, Los Angeles Rams
In his first season in LA, Cooks developed strong chemistry with quarterback Jared Goff in Sean McVay's high-octane offense. His 1,204 receiving yards were second-best among NFC wideouts -- only behind teammate Robert Woods. Those 1,204 yards also were a career high.
Cooks primarily is known as a deep threat, but he also was very effective catching screens last season. His wide receiver rating -- or, Goff's quarterback rating when throwing to Cooks -- was second-highest in the NFL last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Cooks also ranked second in the stat on post and corner routes, and that versatility makes him the most dangerous wide receiver in the division.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
Lockett set career highs in just about every area last season, catching more touchdowns (10) in his fourth NFL campaign than the totality of his first three. Few receivers in the league were as explosive as Lockett, as he led qualifying players in receiving yards per target (13.8) and finished fifth in yards per reception (16.9), according to Pro Football Reference.
But what set the 26-year-old apart last season was his surehandedness. He caught 57 of 70 targets (81.4 percent), which was good for 12th in the NFL. Doug Baldwin's retirement unquestionably makes Lockett Seattle's No. 1 receiver, and he could springboard into the league's elite if he maintains his efficiency as he is targeted more often.
Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
Kupp's torn ACL in Week 10 marked a clear turning point in the Rams' season. Goff greatly missed his most reliable target from Week 11 onward, averaging nearly three fewer yards per attempt as he threw just 11 touchdowns over the remainder of the regular season and playoffs.
The 26-year-old Kupp was well on his way to a career season, already having caught 40 receptions for 566 yards alongside six touchdowns. Assuming he returns healthy in 2019, Kupp will open up a lot of options for an already intimidating Rams offense and is close to a sure bet to give LA a third 1,000-yard receiver.
Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams' embarrassment of riches out wide is made clear by the fact their most prolific receiver isn't their best. Like Cooks and Kupp, Woods set plenty of career highs last season, with 86 receptions for 1,219 yards and six touchdowns.
Woods had never cracked 800 yards in his previous five seasons, but was far more consistent last season. Woods failed to exceed 60 receiving yards in just two games in 2018 after being unable to do so in six during the previous season. He also dropped just two of the 88 catchable passes thrown his way, according to Pro Football Focus, and figures to once again be a reliable option for the reigning NFC champions.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Fitzgerald caught the third-fewest passes of his career last year (69) for the fewest yards (734) on the third-fewest targets (112), but the 35-year-old saved some of his best work for the second half of the season. He caught four touchdowns in his last eight games, and had twice as many 50-yard receiving games (four) as he did in his first eight.
It's clear that Fitzgerald's best years are behind him, and he might not have much left in the tank beyond next season. But he'll provide Kyler Murray a safety valve all over the field, and Murray's talent very well could be enough to give the probable Pro Football Hall of Famer a late-career boost.