Why Richie James Jr. will have a Breakout 2021 Season

This opportunity is overdue.
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The 49ers don't need to sign or trade for a No. 3 receiver. 

They have one already. His name is Richie James Jr.

The biggest misconception of the 49ers offseason has to do with their wide receiver position. Some people think the 49ers failed to replace Kendrick Bourne, their No. 3 receiver the past few seasons who recently signed with the New England Patriots. When Bourne left, many experts expected the 49ers to draft a wide receiver to replace him, but they didn't. Instead, they drafted two running backs and two offensive linemen.

This is good news for James Jr. This opportunity is overdue. He has been on the 49ers for three seasons, so he knows the offense. And he's young -- only 25. And when he gets the ball, he makes big plays. He averages a whopping 18.1 yards per catch for his career.

And yet, James Jr. has caught only 38 passes in the NFL. Ridiculous. You would think the coaching staff would want to reward a young, big-play threat with more opportunities. Last season, 49ers quarterbacks has a passer rating of 113.3 when they targeted James. We're talking backup quarterbacks targeting James Jr. with tremendous efficiency. That's the kind of receiver who deserves more targets.

To be fair, James' skillset doesn't match up well with Jimmy Garoppolo, because Garoppolo doesn't throw deep and James is a big-time deep threat. If James Jr. were on the Seahawks or Chiefs, he might be famous already. 

So when Trey Lance takes over for Garoppolo at some point, expect James Jr.'s career to take off.