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Determining San Francisco 49ers' Receiving Needs After Re-Signing Anquan Boldin

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Determining San Francisco 49ers' Receiving Needs After Re-Signing Anquan Boldin
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Anquan Boldin returns to the 49ers for another two seasons.

It may have been a foregone conclusion that veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin was going to come back to the San Francisco 49ers following his stellar 2013 campaign.

Yet until pen is put to paper, nothing is official.

Fortunately enough, that deal is now done. Reported by Ed Werder of ESPN shortly after Boldin posted the update on his Twitter account, Boldin returns to the 49ers on a two-year deal worth $6 million per year per Mike Florio of NBC Sports.

San Francisco's passing offense, hurting from the lack of wide receiver production last year, certainly benefits from Boldin's return. 

Boldin was quarterback Colin Kaepernick's favorite target in 2013—posting 85 receptions for 1,179 yards (which led the team) and seven touchdowns.

Following the production from the 33-year-old veteran, it is clear that Boldin is still capable of playing at a high level. There is nothing that suggests he will not be a vital factor in the 49ers' offense next season.

Still, one cannot completely overlook the fact that San Francisco's wide receiver situation is far from perfect.

Yes, Boldin is here for two more seasons and yes, he should be able to continue providing the statistics seen from receivers his age. Yet fellow receiver Michael Crabtree is due to become a free agent following the 2014 season, and with the 49ers pressed up against the salary cap—along with pending contracts next offseason—the prospects for the receiving corps are dicey at best.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Boldin shall look to continue his rapport with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

With pending contract extensions for Kaepernick, Crabtree, Aldon Smith and Mike Iupati all on the table after 2014, it will be a difficult task to retain all of those players.

The receiving corps could stand as the unit with the most to lose in the near future, not just from a contractual standpoint, but depth as well.

As the current 49ers' depth chart stands, San Francisco has five wideouts on its roster heading into 2014. Already discussed are Boldin and Crabtree—better known for their physicality and catching abilities than their speed.

In addition, San Francisco is hoping that Quinton Patton emerges as a significant contributor next season following his rookie year, where a foot injury thwarted most of his playing time.

 

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Quinton Patton is another receiver the 49ers have high hopes for.

Kassim Osgood is another receiver, yet his best contributions so far have been on special teams.

Then there is Jon Baldwin whom the 49ers received in exchange for 2012 first-round draft pick A.J. Jenkins in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Barring a resurrection in his short career thus far, Baldwin is unlikely to become a significant factor in San Francisco's offense—active in a mere 7 games over the course of 2013.

So where will the 49ers look to bulk up at the position?

As already stated, San Francisco has to be mindful of its cap situation heading forward. Speculation from CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco pointed to possible interest in a trade for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Desean Jackson, but David Fucillo of Niners Nation thwarted the idea shortly thereafter, citing the 49ers' preference to not overspend in trades or free agency.

With Boldin now under contract through 2015, any deal seems even further from possibility.

That leaves the draft as a plausible avenue for restructuring San Francisco's receiving corps and building it for the future.

With the 49ers slated to pick at No. 30 and owning a plethora of picks, San Francisco has the ammunition to bulk up this position for future seasons.

Fortunately, the wide receiver draft class is also deep and talented which gives the 49ers plenty of options regarding how they handle themselves in the draft.

From a speed standpoint, the 49ers could easily benefit from a deep-threat receiver—one who could complement the intermediate play-making abilities of receivers like Crabtree and Boldin. From a red-zone standpoint, San Francisco could make use of a big target that turns the 49ers' overabundance of field goals into touchdowns.

The ideal candidate would fit both criteria, but those attributes usually wind up being found in a highly touted prospect in the draft and could easily cost San Francisco's brass plenty in terms of a trade up.

Furthermore, general manager Trent Baalke does not want a repeat of what happened after drafting Jenkins in the first round back in 2012, so we can expect the team to be diligent when it comes to making the right selection.

We could debate for hours who the ideal candidates are for what the 49ers are trying to implement. Speedster Brandin Cooks turned heads at the combine per his profile on CBS Sports and Rob Rang of CBS Sports mocks the 49ers utilizing their first-round draft pick to get him.

Jordan Matthews out of Vanderbilt also possesses the rare combination of size and speed, which makes him another possibility.

Perhaps another player on the 49ers' radar is Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief, who is slated to be drafted in the second or third round. Moncrief ran a 4.40 time at the combine and his size/speed combination makes him an attractive option as well.

Considering San Francisco's needs at wideout, it is possible the 49ers potentially target two receivers in the draft.

What is known is this—the 49ers need to start thinking about their receiving situation both for the 2014 season and subsequent years as well. Re-signing Boldin helps, but it is not the end-all answer. Furthermore, San Francisco cannot overlook what may happen in 2015 regarding Crabtree.

Boldin alleviates an immediate need. Now it is time to look toward putting the finishing touches on the remaining questions.

 

Statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com. Contractual information courtesy of Spotrac.com unless otherwise indicated.

 

Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the San Francisco 49ers.  Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.

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