Ever since the team parted ways with Anquan Boldin, there’s been a position battle between the receivers to see who would join Smith in the starting lineup.
Right now, Jones has the edge.
“Jacoby right now is the No. 2 guy,” Wide Receivers Coach Jim Hostler said Wednesday. “So right now, Torrey and Jacoby are starting, so that’s definitely going to be more than Jacoby did last year.”
Jones was the No. 3 wideout last season and was primarily used as a speedy downfield threat. He finished the year with 30 catches for 406 yards and a touchdown. He added five more catches for 147 yards and two memorable touchdowns in the playoffs.
He’s slated to step into a larger role in the offense this year, but he’s also in a tight competition with young receivers like
“It wasn’t like last year when we had two guys that were the two front-runners and everybody is playing for that third and fourth spot,” Hostler said. “Now, everybody is playing for that second spot.”
Part of the consideration with how much Jones plays at receiver is his value as a returner on special teams. He was a Pro Bowl return man, scoring four total touchdowns on kick or punt, including in the playoffs. Having him take on a larger offensive role could limit his contributions on special teams.
Throughout his seven-year career, Jones has primarily been a No. 3 receiver. In that role, Jones can capitalize on his speed to stretch the defense, rather than work the middle of the field with precision route running.
Jones was last a starter in 2011 with the Houston Texans, and he finished that season with 31 catches for 512 yards and two touchdowns. His best season as a receiver came in 2010 when he started seven games and finished the year with 51 catches for 562 yards and three touchdowns.
He’s now on pace to return to a starting role in 2013, although the young receivers are pushing him for playing time.
“All of those guys are battling for that second, third and fourth spot,” Hostler said. “And it’s all real close.”