The Seahawks’ diversely talented group of wide receivers put on a show in last week’s season opener, and they will need an encore-plus performance in Sunday night’s home opener against the 49ers.
Kippy Brownhas coached some of the best wide receivers to ever wrap their hands around a football.
There are the Johnsons – Andre when Brown was an assistant with the Houston Texans and Calvin during his stint with the Detroit Lions. There also were Anthony Miller, Alvin Harper and Carl Pickens during three stints at the University of Tennessee. And we might as well throw Roy Williams in there, as well, since Brown also coached him while with the Lions.
But this season, his fourth as the wide receivers coach for the Seahawks, Brown has the most diversely talented group of receivers he has ever been associated with. It starts with Sidney Rice and Golden Tate, the starters. It includes Doug Baldwin, who excels as the slot receiver. It doesn’t stop until you include Jermaine Kearse and Stephen Williams, a pair of big-play threats.
“I’ve had single guys who were tremendous football players,” Brown said (pictured left). “But as a whole this group is pretty impressive.”
In the Seahawks’ season-opening win against the Panthers in Carolina last Sunday, the team’s good-hands guys combined to catch 15 of Russell Wilson’s 25 completions for 226 of his 320 passing yards. Baldwin led the way with seven receptions for 91 yards, including four on third downs. Tate caught four balls for 51 yards. Rice had two catches for 35 yards. Kearse scored the team’s only touchdown on a 43-yard reception, which came one play after Williams almost got the TD until his landing on the turf at Bank of America Stadium jarred the ball loose.
Sunday night, when the Seahawks play their nationally televised home opener against the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field, the receivers will need to contribute an encore-plus performance.
The 49ers feature an obvious No. 1 receiver in Anquan Boldin, who had an NFC Offensive Player of the Week effort with 13 catches for 208 yards in San Francisco’s season-opening win over the Green Bay Packers. With the Seahawks, it’s more a case of which one might be the one on any given play.
“For the first time since I’ve been here, we have five No. 1 receivers,” said Tate, a second-round draft choice in 2010. “I feel like every guy can go in and make a big play; every guy is a game-changer.”
Like Kearse, who technically is the fourth receiver in the group but made a franchise-player catch of the 43-yard pass from Wilson last week. Like Williams, who technically is the fifth receiver but had TD catches of 42, 42 and 38 yards during the preseason.
“All our guys can go in at any moment and affect the game,” Tate said. “We will not skip a beat with any of them in there. We just have guys who can make plays.”
After spending the past two seasons as the backup to All-World wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald with the Arizona Cardinals, Williams is just happy to be playing – and he’s grateful that his opportunity has come as part of this group of wide receivers.
“We talk about it all the time, just how diverse our group is,” Williams said. “We all are good at something. It’s not like we’re all the same type of receiver. We’ve got a tall receiver who can run down the field. We’ve got Doug, who can just make anybody miss in the slot. And we’ve got Golden Tate, who is just a big-play maker with his run after the catch. And Jermaine Kearse, who’s just a complete receiver. And we’ve got Sidney, who’s the leader and has been doing it for years and years.
“In our receiver group, you pick your poison. You’re going to stop something, but then we’ve got other people to do other things, too. Anybody in this group could be a starter. Usually when you take out your starters, you kind of see a drop in the game. But it’s not like that with our group.”
There’s something else that makes Seahawks’ wide-outs special.