SANTA CLARA -- A bumpy preseason opener didn't provide many answers for the San Francisco 49ers regarding their muddled situation at wide receiver.
Except for maybe one.
In limited playing time, newcomer Austin Collie appeared healthy and effective while emerging as a veteran who could step up and climb an uncertain depth chart for a team in search of legitimate candidates to fill front-line roles at the position.
With three of their top wideouts injured, the 49ers started unproven Marlon Moore opposite Anquan Boldin at receiver Friday night in their 10-6 exhibition loss to Denver.
Moore has just 12 career receptions, and offensive coordinator Greg Roman is still determining what the team has in its receiver corps.
“I don't know if there's always going to be one guy who's in there with the ones,” Roman said on Sunday. “I think we've got some flexibility there, and that flexibility will continue to grow.”
Collie and Lavelle Hawkins give the 49ers some options they didn't have at receiver before both veterans were signed by the team on Aug. 2.
Each has produced at the NFL level: Collie had 173 receptions in his first three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts; Hawkins had 47 receptions with the Tennessee Titans in 2011.
No other healthy receiver on the roster besides Boldin has more than 35 career receptions.
Though coaches are still advising him to not go full bore in practice, during Thursday's exhibition Collie looked recovered from the ruptured patella tendon that forced him to miss all but one game for the Colts last season.
He had two receptions, including a 16-yard catch on fourth down to extend San Francisco's final drive late in the fourth quarter. Veteran newcomer Kassim Osgood's three receptions for 34 yards led all 49ers wideouts against the Broncos.
Collie has been making an impression as coaches ease him into increased action.
“Austin brings a great pedigree with him,” Roman said. “He had an injury before that kind of halted that, but Austin's a guy who understands the game, a disciplined guy. He's learning our offense, but any time you have a guy who knows what to do, how to do it, understands coverage and all that, that's a bonus.”