Like a starting cornerback, the San Francisco 49ers haven't had a true No. 1 receiver in a long, long time. Free agency isn't the place to find one of those, but the position as a whole could still use some improvement. Last year, the 49ers mined free agency for Torrey Smith, a talented receiver who only managed 33 receptions for 663 yards and four touchdowns last season.
Smith wasn't as great as we'd all hoped but of course, there's also the factor that Colin Kaepernick was terrible last season and Blaine Gabbert was only marginally better in relief near the end of the year. Smith didn't ever have a chance to show what he can do.
Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington and Jerome Simpson, on the other hand, have had plenty of chances and opportunities. Patton and Ellington continue to disappoint on bad offenses and Simpson has only showed flashes of high level play over the years. I'm personally done waiting for Ellington and Patton to become something special and am ready to move on.
You can expect the 49ers to spend a draft pick on a receiver, potentially a high draft pick or a first round pick, but the position could still use some bolstering from free agency if there's anybody interesting available. So ... let's take a look
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers
Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers
Percy Harvin, Buffalo Bills
Rod Streater, Oakland Raiders
Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Seahawks
Brian Quick, Los Angeles Rams
Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals
Andre Caldwell, Denver Broncos
Andre Holmes, Oakland Raiders
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Rueben Randle, New York Giants
Travis Benjamin, Cleveland Browns
Jordan Norwood, Denver Broncos
Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
Rishard Matthews, Miami Dolphins
Seyi Airotutu, Philadelphia Ealges
Brandon Tate, Cincinnati Bengals
Jason Avant, Kansas City Chiefs
Brandon Gibson, New England Patriots
Lance Moore, Detroit Lions
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ricardo Lockette, Seattle Seahawks
Marc Mariani, Chicago Bears
Josh Bellamy, Chicago Bears
Chris Owusu, New York Jets
Nate Washington, Houston Texans
David Nelson, Pittsburgh Steelers
James Jones, Green Bay Packers
Kyle Williams, Denver Broncos
Wes Welker, Los Angeles Rams
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Jeremy Ross, Oakland Raiders
Terrelle Pryor, Cleveland Browns
Chris Givens, Baltimore Ravens
Seantavius Jones, New Orleans Saints
Leonard Hankerson, Buffalo Bills
Boldin tops that list because he's the most expensive player hitting the open market this offseason. I think the 49ers will consider bringing him back, but nowhere at the dollar amount he made this past season.
Obviously, Jeffery is the most interesting guy on the list to me. Jeffery can still be a No. 1 receiver, but I expect the Bears will find a way to lock him down and the 49ers will have to overpay to get him. Plus, if Jeffery doesn't reach his potential, then the 49ers would essentially have two high-priced No. 2 receivers.
Guys like Jones, Benjamin and Randle are the most interesting at this point. I think they could all have something to offer but I have no idea if they'll all hit the open market or if they'll be locked down by their own teams. Whatever the case, these are the guys ... see anybody you guys think would benefit the 49ers?