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The NFL free agency negotiating period begins tomorrow with actual free agency signings able to kick off on Wednesday. One key free agent for San Francisco is WR Anquan Boldin, who may already be looking past the 49ers.
NFL Network's Rand Getlin reported today that the 49ers' leading receiver in 2015 wants to play for a team that can "compete at the highest level." Does he consider the 49ers that type of team? Probably not.
As free agency approaches I'm told #49ers WR Anquan Boldin wants to play for a team that can compete at the highest level. Important to him.— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) March 6, 2016
The 49ers will be heading into their second straight season with a new head coach at the helm. Boldin, who is still performing at a high level considering the offensive disfunction that plagued the 49ers last season, is entering the twilight of his career. He will be 36 years old in October. The 49ers are likely not close to being a contender and are more likely in a rebuilding mode. If Boldin wants to finish his career for a contender, he may already have one foot out the door.
Boldin, who is the reigning NFL Man of the Year, was instrumental in bringing in free agent WR Torrey Smith, who looks to be more involved in 2016 than he was in 2015. It was reported in late January that Boldin and the 49ers had not had discussions about bringing him back to San Francisco and the team may be willing to look to the future as well. That future appears to not include Boldin.
Of course, it is possible that the 49ers are simply allowing Boldin to test the market and see what kind of demand there is for his services. If that demand is limited, they may try to bring him back at a reduced cost. The strategy has both worked and failed for the 49ers in the past.
In 2015, Boldin had 69 receptions for 789 yards and four touchdowns. That was the fewest receiving yards he has had since 2004 with the Arizona Cardinals, which was his second year in the league. Of course, those numbers were still enough to lead the team in receiving. Boldin had surpassed 1,000 yards (1,062 in 2014 and 1,179 in 2013) in each of his previous two seasons with San Francisco.
Boldin ranks 17th all-time in receiving yards with 13,195 and is 12th all-time in receptions with 1,009. He is 35 years old and will turn 36 in October.