San Francisco 49ers: How To Add Depth At Wide Receiver


Jan 5, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (85) celebrates a touchdown with wide receiver Anquan Boldin (81) and wide receiver Quinton Patton (11) in the 4th quarter as Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams (38) looks on during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. The 49ers beat the Packers 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Going into the 2014 offseason, the San Francisco 49ers only have three receivers from the active roster that are returning. Michael Crabtree, Quinton Patton and Jon Baldwin are all coming back. Anquan Boldin and Mario Manningham are set to hit free agency. So what must the 49ers do to get some depth at the wider receiver position?

Most people believe that the 49ers will try and keep Anquan Boldin. While it’s not for certain, it seems pretty likely to happen because the 49ers don’t have much depth on the outside and Boldin practically kept their season alive. Without Boldin, they have Crabtree, Patton–a fourth-round draft pick who was hurt for the majority of the season–and a disappointing first-rounder in Baldwin. The 49ers need some pass catchers if they want to contend for another year.

The obvious choice to add receivers is the draft. That’s how bad teams get good and good teams stay good. They draft cheap, young and talented players to fill up their roster, so that they can stay relevant for years. The only problem is, it’s not always certain. The draft has always been hit or miss. And in recent years, the 49ers haven’t exactly been hitting on wide receivers in the draft. It’s imperative that they do this time. Luckily for the 49ers, there’s a lot of talented receivers coming out of the draft this year, and they have lots of draft picks to either move up to grab who they want, or just draft a bunch of receivers and see what sticks.

But even then, do you really want to throw your rookie receiver(s) into the fire right away? The last thing you want to do is overwhelm them and have to trust them to make plays in games that are even bigger. So, what else is there?

If you don’t want your rookie receiver to take on the big load of starting right away, then you look at free agency. Here’s the list of free agent wide receivers for 2014.

Just like the draft, free agency is filled with some talented players. The problem with free agency is that you’re bidding against every other team in the league. That raises the price of players drastically. The 49ers have never forked over the cash for big names in free agency, so don’t expect them to now.

In recent years, the 49ers have gone after players that didn’t have a lot of buzz around them. Players like Carlos Rogers, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss, Donte Whitner–these players weren’t big names, but the 49ers brought them in and made them work.

It’s expected that the 49ers will go after Boldin again, but even if they don’t, keep your eyes towards the bottom of that list of free agents that was posted above. The 49ers will probably follow their own pattern and get a cheap one year lottery ticket for the season. It worked for players like Carlos Rogers, but not so much for players like Braylon Edwards and Nnamdi Asomugha. If it pays off, then great. If it doesn’t, then they don’t lose too much.

The 49ers are going to be looking at both the draft and free agency to heal their wide receiver woes. Just don’t be surprised if the 49ers draft or sign more than one receiver.