Room at WR for Conway?

The imminent signing of Curtis Conway seems to go opposite the direction the 49ers have been pointing themselves this spring. But the 12th-year veteran impressed coaches during a Tuesday workout at team headquarters, and with his addition the Niners can say they finally have on their roster a receiver who has established himself as a legitimate NFL performer. But where does this guy fit in with San Francisco? The answer: He doesn't.

Not for the team's future at the position, at least. Conway has been hired strictly for the now, and that now may not last beyond training camp.

But the Niners, who have been interested in bringing in a veteran wideout after losing 2003 starters Terrell Owens and Tai Streets during the offseason, took a look at their young receivers corps during their first spring minicamp and obviously determined that bringing in some veteran insurance wasn't a bad idea.

As of late Wednesday morning, the team said a deal with Conway still had not been signed, but sources indicated that could happen later this week.

The addition of Conway would give the Niners a guy who has proven himself in the NFL if things simply don't work out elsewhere within the team's young corps of receivers. You may like Brandon Lloyd, Cedrick Wilson and Rashaun Woods, but let's face it: Neither has proven they can handle a starting role in the NFL. Lloyd and Wilson were the only two receivers on the spring roster who had caught an NFL pass.

Conway has 139 career starts. And perhaps the most impressive figure on a resume that includes 556 career receptions is his 14.1 average per catch. Coach Dennis Erickson indicated the Niners were impressed by Conway's speed during yesterday's workout, and the deep dimension he can bring to the team probably was the deciding factor in offering him a deal.

Conway appeared to slow down a bit last year in his only season with the New York Jets, but he obviously brings more NFL polish and experience at the position than anybody currently on the roster.

If those attributes continue to shine during the June minicamps and into training camp, Conway could not only make the roster, he could carve his way into the starting lineup.

Is this what the Niners would like to see happen? Of course not.

They'd rather see youngsters such as Woods and Lloyd establish themselves as front-line starters, with Wilson, Arnaz Battle and rookie Derrick Hamilton in reserve. But that kind of thinking is betting entirely on the come. The Niners needed a veteran receiver to fall back on this spring, and his name is Curtis Conway.

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