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Kragthorpe: Austin Collie faces battle to make 49ers' roster

Published August 5, 2013 11:43 am

NFL • Down on depth chart, former Cougar needs to shake history of injury.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The San Francisco 49ers have given Austin Collie the opportunity he wanted, but now he actually has to make the team.

The former BYU receiver is listed far down on the depth chart this week as the 49ers prepare for Thursday's preseason opener against Denver. That's where his comeback stands at the moment, following knee surgery, tryouts with several teams and a long wait for a chance like this.

The 49ers were in need of receivers in training camp, after a series of injuries thinned that position group. Collie and Lavelle Hawkins were signed last week to one-year contracts and are competing to make the 53-man final roster.

Just getting this opportunity is a breakthrough for Collie, whose 2012 season ended in September when he injured his knee. Indianapolis later released him, and his history of concussions undoubtedly played a role in other teams' reluctance to sign him.

"I think a team's crazy if they don't bring Austin in," his father, Scott, said this summer.

Austin Collie is a proven NFL receiver, and he's determined to extend his career. Now that former BYU teammate Dennis Pitta is likely sidelined for the season after being injured in Baltimore's camp, Collie would give Cougar fans another player to watch on Sundays. The 49ers traded for veteran receiver Anquan Boldin, but Michael Crabtree will miss the start of the season.

That may be the opening Collie needs. He always makes the most of his opportunities, that's for sure. He helped the Colts reach the Super Bowl as a rookie and even thrived in 2011 when Peyton Manning was injured and Indianapolis used a succession of quarterbacks.

Collie missed the chance to play with Andrew Luck last season, but now the 49ers will enable him to catch passes from Colin Kaepernick.

It all works out, the northern California native could find himself back in the Super Bowl with San Francisco. That's getting ahead of the story, though. Collie's comeback begins Thursday at Candlestick Park, and every preseason game is vital to him in his quest to make the team.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt