It’s no secret that the San Francisco 49ers need talent and depth at the wide receiver position. It has been a position of need for the past few years. The 49ers picked up Anquan Boldin in a trade last year, and that trade certainly worked out. Boldin is set to become a free agent, so that once again leaves the 49ers lacking on the outside. Now, it is being reported that Boldin and the 49ers are working on a new deal, but what if they can’t get one done? What will the 49ers do then?
It’s likely that the 49ers draft a receiver or two in the draft, but draft picks don’t always work out. Especially at wide receiver. It usually takes young receivers a couple years to adapt to the NFL and come into their own.
So if Anquan Boldin isn’t signed, and the draft picks don’t work out, what are the 49ers going to do?
The 49ers are notorious for taking a short, plug-and-play approach to cheaper and lower priority free agents. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. So, would they do that again this year? There’s a good chance.
So what about Nate Burleson?
Burleson has never been a flashy, game-changer type of player. He’s only gone over 1,000 yards once and that was in his second year in 2004. He has had some quality seasons, but those seasons look to be behind him.
The problem with Burleson is that he can’t stay healthy. He’s only played a full season once in the last six years. He had a good year in 2011, where he caught 73 passes for 757 yards and three touchdowns. But three years is a long time in the NFL. In the last two years, Burleson has only played in 15 games and caught 66 passes for 701 yards and three touchdowns.
If this was a few years ago and Burleson could stay healthy, then he would be a viable option for the 49ers to target in free agency. But now the 33 year old, constantly injured receiver’s best years are behind him and the 49ers aren’t likely to chase after him.
Then again, Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke are unpredictable and they very well may take a chance on Burleson to see if he can perform. If Burleson is willing to play for extremely cheap, I wouldn’t be completely surprised if the 49ers bring him to try him out. They’ve brought in an aging veteran on a cheap one year deal the last couple years, and they could do it again. With wide receiver being a position of need, the 49ers will try and get all the help they can.