Wes Welker named new 49ers wide receivers coach

Former New England Patriots legend Wes Welker was recently appointed the new wide receivers coach for the San Francisco 49ers.

Looks like Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t the only high-profile ex-New England Patriot on the San Francisco 49ers anymore.

On Wednesday, the team made public its official hiring of Wes Welker as the 49ers’ new wide receivers coach. The 37-year-old Welker will now join the 39-year-old Kyle Shanahan’s coaching staff, and together, they represent a growing “youth” movement of sorts around the NFL coaching fraternity.

Welker will now face the uphill task of coaching up a relatively-modest group of wideouts, headlined by names like Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Kendrick Bourne, and Dante Pettis. No 49ers wide receiver had more than 500 yards or five touchdowns in 2018, as tight end George Kittle led the team with 88 receptions for 1,377 yards and five scores.

In January of 2017, Welker was hired by Bill O’Brien (formerly the Patriots’ offensive coordinator) to be an offensive and special teams assistant coach with the Houston Texans. He stayed in that role for two seasons before being hired and promoted to wide receivers coach in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Of course, Patriots fans hold a special place in their hearts for Welker. After being drafted in 2004 by the San Diego Chargers, Welker played three seasons with the Miami Dolphins, where he started in just three games out of the 46 he appeared in. Deployed more as a return specialist and gadget-type player, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick thought Welker was being under-utilized in Miami when he traded two draft picks to acquire him back in March of 2007.

Welker immediately made an impact in New England, starting 13 of 16 games during the Patriots’ undefeated regular season and setting new career highs for himself across all major receiving categories. He tied the then-Super Bowl record of 11 receptions in a single game during New England’s loss to New York in the championship that year.

Over the course of the next five seasons with the Patriots, Welker only missed time when he was injured, serving as Tom Brady’s go-to receiver and safety blanket underneath. His game largely inspired that of younger teammate and fellow wideout Julian Edelman, who often cited Welker as a role model and the gold standard at their position.

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Welker did eventually move on from the Patriots, playing two years with the Denver Broncos and one with the St. Louis Rams before unofficially retiring after the 2015 season.

He currently ranks third in all-time receiving yards for New England, behind only Troy Brown and Stanley Morgan.