Last Tuesday, it was revealed the the San Francisco 49ers and free agent wide receiver Anquan Boldin are not currently engaged in contract talks. General manager Trent Baalke said that the two sides had agreed to meet and discuss options at some point in the offseason, but that they had not yet made contact.
He went a step further than that though, and suggested that the 49ers would not meet with Boldin and his agent until after they are completely done with the rest of free agency and the NFL Draft.
It's unclear if this is also acceptable to Boldin or if this is a slight against him. The 49ers are essentially saying that they see a future in which retaining Boldin, a long-time veteran who essentially only holds value for another season at best, isn't a necessity and that they will get to him if that future doesn't pan out.
Wide receiver could be a legitimate target early on in the NFL Draft, and if they spend such a pick, then there may not be a need for Boldin. But if the 49ers are hoping to find success with Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick or even rookies like Jared Goff or Carson Wentz at the quarterback position, then part of me feels like Boldin is an integral asset for that success.
Boldin is a quarterback's best friend, a possession receiver who will fight for positioning and fight to secure the football on every single snap he plays. Boldin's will is indomitable and he'd be as reliable a target a rookie quarterback, or one trying to rebound after struggling in the NFL, can get.
Boldin, 35, led the 49ers with 69 receptions for 789 yards last season. He averaged 11.4 yards per reception and has done quite well for the 49ers. He's put up 3,030 yards and 16 touchdowns in three seasons with the 49ers. He's been one of the only bright spots on a bad offense since coming to San Francisco.
If the 49ers wait until after the draft and sign Boldin, or draft someone high, then that's fine. But what if Boldin signs elsewhere? There hasn't been much reported interest, but once he's gone, he's gone.
Would that be a nightmare scenario for the 49ers? I think so, given the lack of proven talent at the position currently on the roster. I can't imagine how you succeed with a rookie quarterback or ask Gabbert or Kaepernick to establish themselves as a franchise guy throwing the ball to Torrey Smith and whatever the 49ers can find to put on the field across from him and in the slot. Not to mention the fact that said quarterback's top tight end will likely be Garrett Celek.