Ted Ginn Jr. looks at himself in the mirror and sees an NFL wide receiver.
He sees one of the fastest players on the 49ers roster and a guy who once caught 58 passes for Miami in 2008, just two years after leaving Ohio State where he was an All-American.
When others look at Ginn, however, they see kick returner first, wide receiver second.
It’s a perception the third-year 49er is constantly working to change.
Ginn, 27, who started San Francisco’s first exhibition game against Minnesota, is definitely in the 49ers’ mix at the wide receiver position, along with Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, top draft pick A.J. Jenkins and Kyle Williams. The 49ers, after all, re-signed Ginn as a free agent this offseason after he played 2011 and 2010 in San Francisco.
That re-signing, however, widely was viewed as a way to ensure the 49ers’ kick- and punt-return teams remained dangerous.
Ginn, one of the best in the league at both, last season averaged a career-best 27.6 yards on 29 kickoff returns and 12.3 yards on 38 punt returns – and had touchdowns in both categories.
As a receiver last season, he had just 19 receptions for 220 yards and no touchdowns. In two seasons with San Francisco, he’s had just 31 total catches after making 128 in three seasons with the Dolphins.
This training camp, Ginn has tried to reassert himself as a wide receiver.
“That’s how I’ve been trying to showcase myself as an NFL player,” he told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group.
Ginn, who had minor knee surgery during the offseason that kept him out of some workouts, by all accounts has had a good and productive few weeks in Santa Clara.
“Ted’s had a great camp – really pleased with Ted,” 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh told NFL.com. “He’s catching the ball, he’s blocking, he’s playing all the positions – the X, the Z, the slot. He’s doing it all. He’s running good, getting in and out of his cuts.”
With the team’s leading receiver in 2011, Crabtree, back, and the signing of Moss in the offseason, Ginn likely isn’t going to be considered a starter in 2012. Plus, the Niners went out to sign Manningham as a free agent, so he’s the likely No. 3. But with Jenkins still learning, it’s possible that Ginn could be the team’s No. 4 at the start of the season, ahead of Jenkins and Williams.
Ginn told Inman he’s grateful for the opportunity to show what he can do in camp.
“To come in as an older guy, everybody showed what they have, and to still be considered a starter and in the elite group, it’s a blessing,” Ginn said.
Ginn had no catches against the Vikings, but had one reception last weekend against the Texans for 24 yards.
Ginn knows this season that he’s competing for playing time against a deep and talented group of wideouts. Still, he’s considered one of the fastest players on the team and has a firm grasp on the playbook in his second year in Harbaugh’s system.
“We go out and compete, and however it turns out, it’ll turn out,” he told CSNBayArea.com.