2014 Free Agency: Plenty of low-key options at wide receiver for 49ers

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Anquan Boldin needs to come back, but will the 49ers pursue another wide receiver in free agency this offseason?

I don't even know what to think about wide receivers anymore. When it comes to the NFL Draft, it's incredibly hard to predict which guys are going to make it at the next level. I was a guy who believed in A.J. Jenkins to an extent, though I obviously have a lot more confidence in someone like Quinton Patton. But it's basically a crapshoot, to someone like me.

That's part of the reason I was totally on board with signing Mike Williams a couple years back, and why I desperately wanted the San Francisco 49ers to trade for Josh Gordon this season. So many times, what we see on tape is not what we get when it comes to drafting receivers. Big names come out of nowhere, and the guys that were supposed to be big names turn into ... Ted Ginn.

I'm not saying the 49ers shouldn't draft a receiver this year. It's obvious that, if there's a guy they like early on, they should target him. In fact, it should be a higher priority than free agency at this point, but it's far from a guarantee, is all I'm saying.

But how does the free agent market look, especially for the 49ers? There are a couple intriguing options, honestly. First, I'm going to list the top free agents, many of which the 49ers won't get but should be there for context:

Eric Decker (Denver Broncos)
Jeremy Maclin (Philadelphia Eagles)
Hakeem Nicks (New York Giants)
Anquan Boldin (San Francisco 49ers)
James Jones (Green Bay Packers)
Julian Edelman (New England Patriots)
Emmanuel Sanders (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Riley Cooper (Philadelphia Eagles)
Golden Tate (Seattle Seahawks)
Kenny Britt (Tennessee Titans)
Brandon LaFell (Carolina Panthers)
Dexter McCluster (Kansas City Chiefs)
Mario Manningham (San Francisco 49ers)
Jacoby Jones (Baltimore Ravens)
Josh Morgan (Washington Redskins)
Santana Moss (Washington Redskins)
Darrius Heyward-Bey (Indianapolis Colts)
Jerome Simpson (Minnesota Vikings)
Kevin Walter (Tennessee Titans)
Robert Meachem (New Orleans Saints)
Tiquan Underwood (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

That's quite a long list (and it doesn't include everyone, but ya know). Right off the bat you can eliminate some players like Eric Decker, Jeremy Maclin and James Jones. They're all going to command significant contracts that the 49ers just cannot afford at this point, along with players like Hakeem Nicks.

Obviously, the most significant name there is Anquan Boldin. He's not going to go elsewhere this season because the 49ers absolutely need him more so than any other team. He's a better fit in San Francisco and a fantastic wide receiver. San Francisco can afford him and they should.

So with Boldin and Michael Crabtree, the 49ers aren't looking for a top receiver or anything like that. Then there's the potential for a rookie and of course, Quinton Patton. So someone who can fill the role that Manningham was supposed to be filling these past couple seasons.

To me, there's a couple names on that list that are still interesting. I think Underwood from the Buccaneers is an interesting option. He managed four touchdowns and 440 yards in 2013, playing in 12 games with seven starts. Meachem is an interesting option as well. He was incredibly ineffective with the San Diego Chargers in 2012, but everything else on tape has been excellent.

Cooper is another guy worth looking at. He managed 835 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013, and averaged 17.8 yards per catch. I could easily see him working into the lineup behind both Boldin and Crabtree and I could see him being a legitimate threat from that spot.

Either way, there's some options there. Anybody catching your eye?

Here's the entire list of free agent wide receivers, including the names above:

Seyi Ajirotutu, San Diego Chargers
Danario Alexander, San Diego Chargers
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers
Deion Branch, Indianapolis Colts
Dezmon Briscoe, Washington Redskins
Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans
Plaxico Burress, Pittsburgh Steelers
Andre Caldwell, Denver Broncos
Arceto Clark, Seattle Seahawks
Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles
Terrance Copper, Kansas City Chiefs
Austin Collie, New England Patriots
Jerricho Cotchery, Pittsburgh Steelers
Josh Cribbs, New York Jets
Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Jacoby Ford, Oakland Raiders
Ted Ginn, Carolina Panthers
Chad Hall, Kansas City Chiefs
Lavelle Hawkins, San Diego Chargers
Adam Henry, St. Louis Rams
Devin Hester, Chicago Bears
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Indianapolis Colts
Domenik Hixon, Carolina Panthers
Jerrell Jackson, Kansas City Chiefs
Jacoby Jones, Baltimore Ravens
James Jones, Green Bay Packers
Brandon Kaufman, Buffalo Bills
Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers
Josh Lenz, Indianapolis Colts
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles
Mario Manningham, San Francisco 49ers
Marc Mariani, Tennessee Titans
Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs
Robert Meachem, New Orleans Saints
Marlon Moore, Miami Dolphins
Josh Morgan, Washington Redskins
Santana Moss, Washington Redskins
Louis Murphy, New York Giants
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Kevin Ogletree, Detroit Lions
Kassim Osgood, San Francisco 49ers
Taylor Price, Jacksonville Jaguars
Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals
Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings
Micheal Spurlock, Detroit Lions
Brandon Stokley, Baltimore Ravens
Julian Talley, New York Giants
Brandon Tate, Cincinnati Bengals
Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks
Tiquan Underwood, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kevin Walter, Tennessee Titans
Bryan Walters, Seattle Seahawks
Joe Webb, Minnesota Vikings
Damian Williams, Tennessee Titans
Kyle Williams, Kansas City Chiefs

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