San Francisco 49ers: Can They Let Anquan Boldin Walk?

Anquan+Boldin+Seattle+Seahawks+v+San+Francisco+AZ1d5uPeO1sx (1)
The San Francisco 49ers made some noise last offseason when they acquired veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin from the Baltimore Ravens. The move was looked upon as simply a good acquisition at first. That move proved to be one that would be a wise move once Michael Crabtree went down due to injury. Boldin assumed the No. 1 receiver role and he flourished in his first year as a 49er. He is now set to become a free agent and it’s only right to wonder whether or not the 49ers should resign him.

Crabtree had previously eliminated a drought of 1,000-yard receivers that dated back to the days of Terrell Owens. Boldin came in and posted a 1,000-yard season of his own, which was the first time that he had done so since 2009 as a member of the Arizona Cardinals. The first game of the season set the tone for 2013 as Boldin garnered 13 receptions for 208 yards and a touchdown. His totals for the 2013 season were 85 receptions, 1,179 yards and seven touchdowns. The momentum carried over to the postseason as he was a major factor in the 49ers divisional round win over the Carolina Panthers. He had eight catches and 136 yards.

Boldin is a key player to bring back, even with the return of Crabtree. If you look at the season, you will see that Colin Kaepernick targeted Boldin 130 times. The highest total of targets that Boldin got was 13, which was in the season opener. The next highest total was nine targets which he was able to get twice, both of these times were after Crabtree came back. That is a clear sign that he fully trusts the veteran receiver. Kaepernick is still in his developmental phase and having a reliable receiver like Boldin is crucial to his continued progress. Boldin is one of those players that is open even when he is covered. Kaepernick can throw the ball in his direction and know that Boldin will do everything that he can to make the catch and if he can’t he will make sure it isn’t intercepted.

The 49ers are very likely to draft a wide receiver in this year’s draft. There are quite a few that can have an impact in different ways. Whoever they select would benefit from having Boldin on their team to mentor them. This would especially be the case with Kelvin Benjamin, a big red zone threat from Florida State. Boldin came from Florida State as well and would provide a solid example of how to be a pro.

Anquan+Boldin+San+Francisco+49ers+v+Green+NNIdLgKb2rmx_00Most of the young receivers on the 49ers have leaned on Boldin for advice. Jonathan Baldwin made it his business to seek out Boldin as soon as he got to the 49ers facility. He based that decision on the way his former Kansas City Chiefs teammate, Steve Breaston, talked about how Boldin helped him when they were both on the Cardinals. Another player that seemed to really form a productive relationship with Boldin was Quinton Patton. Boldin described him as a high energy, little brother type of guy that is always on the move. He cracked a smile when he described Patton.

The 49ers should strongly consider resigning Boldin to a deal. The numbers would have to be worked out, but it is easy to say that he was one of the most valuable 49ers in 2013. The return on the investment would be huge from many perspectives. His hard nose, aggressive style of play is very contagious. The team feeds off of it. Boldin will help Kaepernick, he will help take the pressure off of Crabtree and he will provide a strong locker room mentor to any young players. His career is far from over and he would be a great piece to have as the 49ers make another run for the championship in 2014.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Anquan Boldin San Francisco 49ers

  • loverpoint

    The question is whether or not there are going to be enough passing plays to go around. The number of passing plays has gone down every year since 2010 when Singletary was the Head Coach and Jimmy Raye was the offensive coordinator. Colin Kaepernick will never be a Top 10 QB if the offensive coordinator is not PASS FRIENDLY.

    Does Boldin want to come back to the 49ers, will Crabtree want to extend into the future ? Most WR’s are divas and want to be on a team in which there is a good QB and an Offensive System that likes to throw. The 49ers only meet one of those criteria. If Roman does not involve the passing game more often in 2014 then Crabtree will leave and no WR’s will ever want to play for the 49ers. If Boldin does not come back to the 49ers then he will be sending a statement that the 49ers are not a desirable place to play for a future HOF WR’s.

  • AJ

    I don’t think the 49ers are best off keeping Boldin.

    I think it seriously threatens their chances of retaining Whitner, and I think a guy like James Jones better compliments Crabtree. I love Boldin, all else being equal, I’d prefer to keep him as the #2 starter… but a guy like Jones has a skillset that opens up the 49ers passing options in ways Boldin’s does not, as he and Crabtree are very similar talents.

    Also, I don’t think you give up a 28 year old elite S to retain a 33 year old WR, regardless of what echelon of talent he lies in. Boldin was a huge boost to the ‘Niners this year… but if the price tag is too high, you must move on.


      Thank you for your comments. I honestly think the 49ers don’t value the safety position enough to pay the top level type of deal that Whitner will likely command. At 28, this will probably be his last chance at the big time contract. Yes, he signed a nice rookie deal but since then, he hasn’t seen a big contract. They can get younger and significantly less expensive at the safety position if they draft Deone Buccanon or Calvin Pryor.

      James Jones seems to get lost in some games and I would not suggest him as an option. Boldin is surely more of an impactful player at this point. I would look at drafting a guy like Shaq Evans later in the draft if you want a James Jones type of player.