As an undrafted free agent in 2017, Victor Bolden showed an awful lot of promise his rookie year as the possible return man of the future. As the season wore on, it seemed to just fizzle off. He broke a kick off off for a touchdown in the preseason, got 71 return yards against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2, and then became Joe Return-man until his eventual send-off to injured reserve in December.
Still, for a rookie, Bolden was decent, and would have a nice future ahead of him. That is if the San Francisco 49ers didn’t draft another couple promising rookie return men, kickoffs weren’t going the way of the dodo, and Bolden could do anything else besides return kicks. Besides kickoffs, Bolden doesn’t exactly offer much but depth, and as shocking as it is to say it: the 49ers have plenty of that at wide receiver now. He’s coming in for camp, but for someone who may have been the return man of the future, his future doesn’t look very bright.
Experience: One accrued season
Weight: 178 pounds
He is in year two of his three-year rookie deal. The hit gives him a base salary of $555,000 and a prorated signing bonus of $2,666 totaling a cap hit of $557,666.
What to expect in 2018
The biggest thing is hopefully a higher weight. 5’8 and 178 pounds is pretty light for the NFL. I’d like to see him gain another 10 pounds to be closer in weight to maybe Devin Hester (190). It might keep him off of IR. Hopefully through his rookie season, the speed of the game has slowed down as well and he can process things at a quicker pace. This will open up lanes in the return game which is where he will probably be most utilized, if at all.
The problem with expectations is who the 49ers drafted. They have wide receiver Dante Pettis, an obvious punt return candidate but he may slip over into the kickoff return game as well for his rookie season. The draft of Richie James doesn’t help Bolden’s stock as well. They also drafted D.J. Reed, a corner with immense special teams value and a 34.2-yard average in kick off returns (2nd in the nation).
Odds of making the roster
It isn’t looking too good for Bolden. The 49ers drafted two wide receivers and the special teams play he could be kept for may get claimed by one of those draftees. If he can improve his pass catching abilities, he may be able to carve out a roster spot, but he’s going to have an uphill battle.