Niners Void at WR to be Filled by Vets, New Pickups

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Ted Ginn Jr. will start at wide receiver vs. the Lions Sunday. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

    Each week, Alex Smith seems to be taking another step forward.

    The 49ers quarterback has helped his team jump out to a 4-1 record and the lead in the NFC West by playing smart and efficient football.

    He’s completed more than 65 percent of his throws (83 of 126) for seven touchdowns, while throwing just one interception, and his quarterback rating of 104.1 is third in the league behind Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.

    But Smith has had to do it with a patchwork receiving corps. First, Michael Crabtree was injured. Then, Braylon Edwards and Joshua Morgan (who is now out for the season).

    When the 49ers travel to Michigan to play the 5-0 Lions this Sunday, they’ll be without their two opening-day wideouts, Edwards and Morgan. In their place, Crabtree and Ted Ginn Jr. will line up on the outside, with Kyle Williams as the No. 3 wide receiver.

    On Wednesday, Smith said he and the team just have to wave off the injuries and keep moving forward.

    “Whether you like it or not, you don’t have a choice,” he told Cam Inman of the Oakland Tribune. “The next guy has to step up. We’ve got to keep going.”

    The team has acted to shore up the receiving corps by signing former Green Bay Packer Brett Swain to the 53-man roster – he could play Sunday – and Kerry Taylor to the practice squad.

    Swain, a former seventh-round pick out of San Diego State, was signed to a one-year deal after the team auditioned several free agents, including Chris Chambers, Brian Finneran and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, reported Inman.

    As a former member of the Packers, Swain (6-feet, 200 pounds) is familiar with the 49ers West Coast offense.

    Playing for the Packers in 2009 and 2010, Swain had six receptions for 72 yards and no touchdowns. He also was a strong special teams performer.

    Taylor, meanwhile, a rookie from Arizona State, is the nephew of former 49ers standout wide receiver John Taylor. He was released by the Packers in training camp, then was picked up by the Patriots for a short time before being released in September.

    As a senior at ASU, Taylor had 54 catches for 699 yards and three touchdowns.

    This Sunday against the Lions, Ginn says Niners wide receivers are eager to step up and make plays.

    “(Morgan’s injury) gives everybody else a greater opportunity to do a little bit better, a little bit more,” he told reporters. “We’ll go out and seize the opportunity and push forward.”