49ers' offseason focus on wide receivers

49ers' offseason focus on wide receivers
February 5, 2014, 11:15 am
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How about two years, $10 million with $6 million guaranteed? That sounds fair.
Matt Maiocco on Anquan Boldin

The top offseason priority on offense is to lock down a starting wide receiver to go along with Michael Crabtree.

Obviously, the strongest -- and most-likely candidate -- is veteran Anquan Boldin, who picked up the slack in the passing game with 1,179 yards and seven touchdowns.

And quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s production in the passing game rose more than 30 yards per game after Crabtree returned from Achilles surgery and joined Boldin in the starting lineup.

Assuming Boldin returns, the 49ers still figure to add help at wide receiver via the draft. Quinton Patton would likely compete against any newcomers for the job of the No. 3 wideout.

Here’s an early look at the 49ers’ projected offensive lineup for 2014:

Wide receiver: Michael Crabtree. He enters the final year of his rookie contract. The 49ers will approach him about a contract extension, but the big question is whether they can agree on terms for a multi-year deal.
Left tackle: Joe Staley. The 49ers’ best offensive lineman at the most-important line position has reasonable salaries through the 2017 season.
Left guard: Mike Iupati. Like Crabtree, he is set to enter the final year of his contract. The sides did not make any progress last year toward a long-term deal. Iupati should be fine in two months after sustaining a broken left lower leg in the NFC Championship game.
Center: TBD. Veteran Jonathan Goodwin wants to return for another season, but the 49ers appear inclined to get younger at this position. Daniel Kilgore, Adam Snyder and Joe Looney can play the spot. The 49ers could also invest a draft pick on a player to step in and compete.
Right guard: Alex Boone. The decision to move him from swing tackle to guard two seasons ago proved to be a boon for the organization.
Right tackle: Anthony Davis. The deal he signed last April is structured in a way that figures to keep him around for a while.
Tight end: Vernon Davis. With 13 touchdown catches, Davis is still an important part of the offense. Vance McDonald’s blocking improved during the course of the year. He had an underwhelming rookie season but figures to be asked to contribute more in the passing game.
Wide receiver: TBD. What’s a fair price for Boldin, who turns 34 in November? How about two years, $10 million with $6 million guaranteed? That sounds fair. Patton returns, too. And the 49ers can be expected to add competition with a possible early-round draft pick.
Fullback: Bruce Miller. He’ll be fine to participate in the offseason program after sustaining a season-ending fractured shoulder blade. The 49ers could bring back 290-pounder Will Tukuafu to compete for a job.
Running back: Frank Gore. He is on the books for $6.45 million in the final year of his deal. That’s a lot of money for a guy who turns 31 in May. But, at the same time, the 49ers continued to rely heavily on Gore this past season. It's difficult to believe Gore will not be on the 49ers next season. But the club might wait to see how the free-agent market treats running backs before determining if they will ask him to take a reduced salary. Marcus Lattimore is expected to take part in the full offseason program. Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Jewel Hampton are also set to return.
Quarterback: Colin Kaepernick. The sides can begin talking about a long-term extension, as he is set to enter the final season of his original four-year contract. He is clearly the team’s QB of the future. Currently, McLeod Bethel-Thompson is the only other quarterback on the roster. Colt McCoy is scheduled for free agency. The 49ers could use a mid- to late-round pick on a player to compete for a backup job.