The Detroit Lions claimed former Kansas City Chiefs 2011 first round draft pick wide receiver Jon Baldwin off of waivers on Monday after he’d been released by the San Francisco 49ers on August 3rd. Baldwin played for the 49ers in 2013 after being picked up by the Niners in a trade with the Chiefs in giving them wide receiver A.J Jenkins in exchange.
The 49ers rarely used the 6’4”, 230 pound Baldwin despite the fact that he had good size and was getting open on the few pass plays that they put him into games. Baldwin caught only 3 passes last season for the 49ers, but you have to blame a big part of that on Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He’s more of a one-read quarterback who would look at his favorite target, either Anquan Boldin or Michael Crabtree, and if they were covered, he would take off running or throw the ball away. Kaepernick never did show that he could make more than one read during the season, so Baldwin was typically ignored on pass plays.
With the Lions, Baldwin will complete with Kris Durham, Ryan Broyles, Kevin Ogletree, T.J. Jones and Jeremy Ross for a backup spot on the team. The Lions already have two high quality receivers in Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, so unless one of those players go down with an injury this season, Baldwin’s chances of seeing any playing time will be limited.
Baldwin caught 22 passes with the Chiefs from 2011-2012. He developed a reputation for dropping passes. He didn’t show that problem with the 49ers, because he simply wasn’t on the field enough times to see whether or not he still had this problem. Baldwin became expendable for the 49ers after they drafted rookie Bruce Ellington and traded with the Buffalo Bills to get wide receiver Steve Johnson. Obviously, the Niners decided that Baldwin wasn’t performing as well as the other receivers on the team otherwise they would have kept him around.
Baldwin has the size to be a Mike Evans type of receiver for the Lions if they let him play. He’s big and can up high to catch passes. His foot speed is limited though, and he’s more of a possession type of receiver than a deep guy.