The San Francisco 49ers feel content with their wide receiver unit. At least that’s the perception GM Trent Baalke is giving. One year after striking a lucrative long-term deal with WR Torrey Smith, the 49ers completely ignored the position this time around. Which begs the question, why?
I understand that Baalke wants to develop the younger players, but at the expense of a team captain? I have to disagree. Yes, I’m talking about 14-year veteran WR Anquan Boldin.
As the depth chart currently stacks up, I can all but guarantee roster spots for four players; Smith, WR Quinton Patton, WR Bruce Ellington, and WR DeAndre Smelter. That leaves two roster spots open for HC Chip Kelly to ponder on the team’s 53-man roster.
Baalke vows he loves to breed competition at all positions, but if that was truly the case, why not re-sign Boldin? “One thing you try to do in the Draft or any opportunity you get is to make every room as competitive as you can make it,” Baalke told us during our annual pre-draft interview.
Since acquiring Boldin via trade with the Baltimore Ravens, Boldin has paid huge dividends for San Francisco. The stats don’t lie and Boldin was consistently the best player on the team.
The #49ers did little to address the WR position, so if I was Baalke I would be on the phone begging team leader WR Anquan Boldin to return.
— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) May 3, 2016
From pacing the team in receptions (2013, 2014, and 2015) to receiving yards, Boldin ranked first overall in all the team’s major receiving categories since being acquired in 2013. And while TE Vernon Davis led the team in touchdowns (2013), that was the only statistical category over three seasons in which Boldin did not top the list.
However, despite those numbers, Baalke would rather roll with younger players. Why? Aside from his three-year window on developing players, adding Boldin would be depth-suicide for a rebuilding team.
Simply put, his roster spot would further bury some of the younger players on the roster like WR DeAndrew White, WR Dres Anderson and rookie WR Aaron Burbridge. Not to mention, the team seems set on developing another raw project in WR Eric Rogers, the re-signing of Boldin appears all but lost.
However, it’s good to keep all of this in perspective.
When the team traded for his services in 2013, they were Super Bowl contenders. A free-agent or two away from ending their ‘Quest for Six.’ Today, they are considered the laughing stock of the NFL. The need for his veteran leadership while adding value as the team’s security blanket is not the issue.
The current state of the franchise is…
In 46 regular season games with the 49ers, Boldin has amassed 237 catches for 3,030 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns.
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