Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
"But wait. Didn't you write a week ago that the 49ers can afford to let Boldin walk?"
If that was your first thought, I owe you an explanation. All along, I've been in support of the 49ers re-signing Anquan Boldin. But, I do believe they can afford to let him go if he demands too many years or too much money on his next contract.
It would be lunacy to not offer Boldin a short-term, team-friendly deal. He had 1,179 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season. He had 136 receiving yards against the Carolina Panthers in the divisional round. He scored a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game.
Unquestionably, he had a great year.
CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco tabbed Boldin and Dawson as the two 49er free agents most likely to be re-signed.
He cited a Boldin tweet from after the playoff loss to Seattle, which stated, "Thank you @49ers fans for embracing my family and I during our first year in San Francisco. Your support this year was amazing."
It sounds like he wants to come back.
The 49ers need to be careful they don't overpay for Boldin. He's 33 years old, and the Niners still need to clear enough cap space to re-sign Colin Kaepernick, Aldon Smith and Michael Crabtree within the next year.
If they let Boldin walk, they'd likely replace him with a cheap free agent and a high draft pick. The draft is always a crapshoot, and San Francisco's last two first-round picks used on wide receivers show that. They took Crabtree in 2009, which has panned out. They took A.J. Jenkins in 2012, and that selection was a disaster.
The chances the 49ers fully replace Boldin if they let him go are slim. And that's why he's their most important free agent, even if they can survive without him.