The San Francisco 49ers struggled to get production from any wide receiver not named Anquan Boldin in 2013, and explored other options via free agency this offseason. Even with Michael Crabtree expected to be healthy again this upcoming season, San Francisco still kicked the tires on free agents Julian Edelman, Hakeem Nicks, and Emmanuel Sanders but ultimately decided not to be major players in their bidding.
The 49ers know that there is a chance that Crabtree will not be re-signed after his contract expires at the end of the season, and while it’s important to get some depth at receiver, they also have to plan for the future. That is why the team could go a couple different routes to fill the need at wideout in the draft.
The first option is getting a receiver they feel can be a legitimate number one option at some point soon. While the draft’s top wideout, Sammy Watkins, may be too far out of reach, the 49ers do have enough ammo to trade up and get the next best player available at the position. That would be Texas A&M’s Mike Evans.
At 6-foot-5 and 231 pounds, Evans is an imposing force who has the chance to be a star in the league. Initially, the team could use him on the outside in three receivers sets and move Boldin to the slot where he thrives. Evans’ size could also make him a redzone threat right away, as San Francisco grooms him to be Crabtree’s eventual replacement.
A second option for the 49ers would be to draft a player whose speed could take the top off a defense and also provide a matchup issue in the slot. A player perfectly suited for that role is Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks.
Cooks may be there when the 49ers pick at number 30, but after running a 4.33 40 he could be a hot commodity come draft day. San Francisco could always move up for him as well should they feel he is a fit.
The speed that Cooks brings could open up the 49ers offense and give Boldin, Crabtree and Vernon Davis more room to work.
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