With Steve Smith Sr. striding into retirement, the door is open for a No. 1 receiver to step into the spotlight in Baltimore.
"You don't have to have a true No. 1 to have a great passing attack, but I sure hope Breshad Perriman becomes a true No. 1, and to me, there are signs that's possible," Harbaugh said, via the Baltimore Sun. "But he's got a ways to go. He's got a lot of work to do to get it done. You see the radius, and you see the speed. Here's a guy that has a chance. Now he's got to refine his route running, he's got to find his hands to catch them and just become a really good all-around receiver. This is his first year of practicing. He didn't even have training camp. So to me, there's a lot of upside there."
Perriman, a 2015 first-round pick, missed his entire rookie season due to knee issues and missed much of training camp this season. The 6-foot-2 receiver believes being healthy entering the offseason will give him a jump on locking down the No. 1 role.
"I think it's going to be a huge advantage for me," he said. "There's no more rehabbing. It's just straight to work on the things that I know I need to get better at. So I'm looking forward to it."
Perriman caught 33 passes for 499 yards and three TDs in 16 appearances this season. In his first full year, the receiver displayed the size, speed and high-point ability to become a No. 1 target. Perriman made several high-wire grabs and has good run-after-the-catch aptitude. Perriman needs to buoy those skills with more consistency and refining his route running.
"I see and hear some of the expectations that go around, but at the end of the day, my expectations are always higher," he said. "So it doesn't surprise me, and it doesn't shock me at all. I just try to go out there and not really worry about the expectations, but do what I know and do what I do best."