49ers: Ranking San Francisco’s top 3 offseason needs

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3. Wide Receiver

The 49ers have three key internal free agents on expiring contracts this offseason, Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward, and Emmanuel Sanders. If the team signs Armstead long-term as rumors seem to indicate, Sanders could be a goner.

San Francisco traded a second and third-round pick for Sanders at the deadline last season which would be a hefty price to pay for just a half year of a player. It’s clear that the 49ers likely made the trade with the intent of re-signing him if things worked out.

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Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear likely.

In a weak free-agent crop of wideouts but a deep draft class, Sanders could drive a hard bargain on the open market and the 49ers might be better off replacing him in the draft.

Of course, with just one pick before Round 5, that might prove difficult. But expect the 49ers to move up and down plenty during the draft so that they could maximize their capital.

Outside of Sanders, the 49ers will return Deebo Samuel but they’ll be looking for other players to step up and fill starting roles. And players like Dante Pettis, Jalen Hurd, and Kendrick Bourne (RFA) remain unproven as starters.

The team would be wise to bring in another experienced receiver or turn to the draft again to sure up what is an overall weak position group.