San Francisco 49ers: 6 Best Options to Bolster Wide Receiver This Offseason

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San Francisco 49ers: 6 Best Options to Bolster Wide Receiver This Offseason
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson (No. 8) shows off his impressive vertical.

Like any offseason projection for a playoff team, San Francisco 49ers fans surely have little interest in “options” that might “bolster” the wide receiver position.

Even when high profile names like Kelvin Benjamin and Jeremy Maclin are involved.

After all, the 49ers are two days away from squaring off with the Carolina Panthers in the divisional round for entry rights to the NFC Championship Game.

But football life post-2013 begins a mere three weeks and three days from today.

Which means the 2014 offseason is just around the Super Bowl XLVIII corner.

So whether San Francisco reaches—or wins—that hallowed game or not, management will keep focusing on improving the team’s receiving corps through free agency and the draft.

Before Michael Crabtree returned from his torn Achilles, the 49ers’ wideout contingent was a party of one.

Anquan Boldin led the way by a drastic margin through Week 12 with 52 catches (on 82 targets) for 724 yards.

Tight end Vernon Davis, despite his team-high nine touchdowns up to that point, had 52 receptions all year.

Fullback Bruce Miller was the 49ers’ third-leading pass-catcher. That statistic remained for three more games—even with Crabtree in the lineup.

San Francisco’s reigning No. 1 ended the season as the box score No. 3 with 19 catches (33 targets) for 284 yards and one score.

Point being, wide receiver was an extremely thin position for the 49ers this season. That will not change heading into next year.

Crabtree is clearly locked in atop the depth chart. Fourth-round draft pick Quinton Patton emerged late and is a legitimate tertiary asset in 2014.

But that’s it.

Boldin is a free agent and might command a salary beyond the cash-strapped 49ers’ ability to compensate, per Spotrac. See: $5.45 million in available spending capital.

Mario Manningham never sufficiently recovered from his devastating knee injury in 2012. The unsigned veteran’s brief career in San Francisco is all but over.

Preseason starters A.J. Jenkins, Kyle Williams and Marlon Moore are long gone. Depth chart-listed wideout Kassim Osgood is a special teamer and a free agent on top of that.

Meanwhile, Jon Baldwin—acquired in the Jenkins deal with the Kansas City Chiefs—never emerged as a reliable target for Colin Kaepernick.

The 2011 first-round bust amassed all of three catches for 28 yards in seven games this year (one start).

What does this all mean for the 49ers?

Run-first offense, defensive-mindedness and repeated history notwithstanding, San Francisco must draft a receiving prospect in the early rounds. It must also scour the list of cheap but proven available veterans.

Here now are the six best options to bolster the wideout position for the 49ers this offseason.

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