This is the first portion of a debate around Anquan Boldin‘s potential return to the 49ers. This article tells why the San Francisco 49ers should keep him.
The San Francisco 49ers should let Anquan Boldin walk. Boldin was a Godsend this year to a depleted receiving corps, but he is 33 years old now and will provide diminishing returns for the remainder of his career. Rarely do receivers last this long in the NFL, and despite Boldin’s excellent season, Father Time always wins.
The light at the end of the tunnel is visible for Boldin. It would be much wiser of the 49ers to draft in another receiver–perhaps trading up, if need be–and groom him and underrated Quinton Patton to be Michael Crabtree‘s sidekick. Even if the younger players would be slightly behind Boldin for half a year to a year, they would have much higher ceilings, much greater potential, and would not be retiring in a couple of years. A team without many needs, the 49ers could potentially trade up for Mike Evans or Sammy Watkins should either fall out of the top ten. They traded pretty much an entire draft for a certain Jerry Rice, and that worked out all right.
Lastly, the 49ers simply cannot afford to pay Boldin the $6 million that he cost this past year. Colin Kaepernick needs a new, much pricier, contract–as does Aldon Smith. Donte Whitner, too, could be getting a new deal–or joining Boldin on his way out the door. Then there is Mike Iupati, who’s contract expires after this next season.
If this were any other sport, the 49ers could easily re-sign Boldin, but with the NFL’s salary cap, it would just not be prudent to do so.