The San Francsco 49ers fell one game short of reaching the Super Bowl this year after losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game. The 49ers have now reached the NFC Championship game three years in a row, winning one out of three. One of the keys to the 49ers’ success this year was the acquisition of Anquan Boldin this offseason. Boldin and Colin Kaepernick immediately had a great rapport and it showed on the football field. Now Boldin’s contract is up, and the Niners have a tough decision to make. Do you re-sign Boldin at age 33 or do you let him test the market and pray that another receiver comes available that can fill his shoes?
Boldin made $6 million this past season and earned every bit of it, going for 85 receptions, 1179 yards and seven touchdowns. He kept the 49er offense afloat in the absence of Michael Crabtree and the occasional injury to Vernon Davis. The Niners are a ground and pound offense with a stellar defense, but they need to surround the young Kaepernick with as many weapons at receiver as possible. The problem does become the price tag for Boldin’s services. He was the highest paid player on the roster, and now the 49ers have to worry about a few other players hitting free agency like Donte Whitner. If Boldin wants to come back and try to win another Super Bowl he may have to take a pay cut or the Niners are going to have to do some figuring.
There doesn’t seem to be very many wideouts on the free agent market who could come close to filling Boldin’s shoes. Eric Decker of the Denver Broncos is a free agent to-be, and he is definitely an intriguing prospect who made less than $3 million last year. However, the Broncos can concentrate on trying to re-sign Decker because they don’t have any other big time players on their roster that need re-signing this offseason.
Re-signing Anquan Boldin should be the top concern for the Niners this offseason. With the return of Crabtree and the continued solid play of Davis, this could be a scary receiving unit. Whether or not this can be done without losing too many other pieces to the puzzle remains to be seen. Remember, Colin Kaepernick is due for a contract extension and Whitner is a cog in the wheel of the hard hitting secondary. Here is hoping that we see Boldin in a Niner uniform next year. It could mean the difference between a championship season and another close call.
Charles Tribou, Contributing Writer for San Francisco 49ers