ESPN suggests Emmanuel Sanders should be 49ers free agent target

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers have some question marks at wide receiver as they head into the offseason. We break down one suggested option at the position.

The San Francisco 49ers head into the offseason with questions at the wide receiver position. Michael Crabtree is entering the final year of his contract and Anquan Boldin is an unrestricted free agent. The team will likely be spending the offseason trying to extend Crabtree, but the good news is we know he is at least in town for one more season.

Boldin's status is much more up in the air. All indications are Boldin would like to stick around for a new contract, and I don't see how the 49ers couldn't want to extend him. Unfortunately, money always remains a topic of concern, and rightfully so. Anquan Boldin wants a fair salary for the huge contributions he makes, and the 49ers have cap space concerns to keep in mind. If a deal doesn't get done, it won't necessarily because one side was right and one side was wrong. I do think a deal can get done, but I also think it might take until the open of free agency to see how the market values Boldin.

Whether the 49ers extend Boldin or not, they will need to consider additional options at wide receiver. I suspect we see them make some additions in the draft, but could they consider free agency as well? Free agency is almost always going to cost you more than what you can find in the draft, but you also get a track record that can provide a potentially higher floor for a player.

Over at ESPN, Adam Caplan apparently suggested the 49ers should consider Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. The Steelers receiver finished his fourth season, playing under a one-year contract. He was a restricted free agent last season, and the New England Patriots offered him a one-year $2.5 million offer sheet. The Steelers matched it, and he came back to produce career highs across the board. He finished the season with 67 receptions, 740 yards and six touchdowns.

The one low area was in yards per catch, where he averaged a career-low 11.0 yards per catch. I mention that because coming out of college he was viewed as a burner who could open things up down the field. He ran a 4.4 40, but size will remain a bit of a concern.

The 49ers have proven they are not a team to make big splashes in free agency. They will give sizable extensions to their own players, but they generally avoiding hitting the high end of the free agent market. The wide receiver market has some talent, but after Anquan Boldin and Eric Decker, guys like Sanders, Julian Edelman, Golden Tate and Jeremy Maclin could do fairly well for themselves. It might just price them out of the 49ers budget, particularly if the team is able to work out an extension with Boldin.

Here is a full list of free agent wide receivers:

Seyi AjirotutuSan Diego Chargers
Danario Alexander, San Diego Chargers
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers
Deion BranchIndianapolis Colts
Dezmon BriscoeWashington Redskins
Kenny BrittTennessee Titans
Plaxico BurressPittsburgh Steelers
Andre CaldwellDenver Broncos
Arceto ClarkSeattle Seahawks
Riley CooperPhiladelphia Eagles
Terrance Cooper, Kansas City Chiefs
Austin Collie, New England Patriots
Jerricho Cotchery, Pittsburgh Steelers
Josh CribbsNew York Jets
Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Jacoby FordOakland Raiders
Ted Ginn, Carolina Panthers
Chad Hall, Kansas City Chiefs
Lavelle Hawkins, San Diego Chargers
Adam Henry, St. Louis Rams
Devin HesterChicago Bears
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Indianapolis Colts
Domenik Hixon, Carolina Panthers
Jerrell Jackson, Kansas City Chiefs
Jacoby JonesBaltimore Ravens
James JonesGreen Bay Packers
Brandon KaufmanBuffalo 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 MeachemNew Orleans Saints
Marlon MooreMiami Dolphins
Josh Morgan, Washington Redskins
Santana Moss, Washington Redskins
Louis MurphyNew York Giants
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Kevin OgletreeDetroit Lions
Kassim Osgood, San Francisco 49ers
Taylor PriceJacksonville Jaguars
Andre RobertsArizona Cardinals
Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jerome SimpsonMinnesota Vikings
Micheal Spurlock, Detroit Lions
Brandon Stokley, Baltimore Ravens
Julian Talley, New York Giants
Brandon TateCincinnati Bengals
Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks
Tiquan UnderwoodTampa 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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