One of the needs the San Francisco 49ers seemingly need to address in this week’s NFL draft is at the receiver position after losing three of their top four pass-catching wideouts to free agency.
And Brandon Lloyd, who caught 14 passes for 294 yards and a score, remains on the market, though the Niners have shown no interest in bringing him back for a 12th NFL season.
So who’s left?
Anquan Boldin, who is in the final year of his contract after catching a team-high 83 passes for 1,062 yards and five TDs last season.
Plus, the Niners signed deep threat Torrey Smith, who has averaged 16.9 yards per catch in his career, as well as Jerome Simpson, who could be looking at a league-mandated suspension to begin the season.
Niners general manager Trent Baalke was asked recently if any of the top receiving prospects intrigued him. Then again, the top two or three receivers -- Alabama’s Amari Cooper, West Virgina’s Kevin White and Louisville’s DeVante Parker -- all figure to be gone before the 49ers pick at No. 15.
“Once again, how many guys can play? How many balls are there?” Baalke said. “Torrey’s going to be on the field. Anquan’s going to be on the field. Simpson looks extremely good … this early in the process and has been a very solid receiver. His last year in Minnesota, (he had) 40-plus catches, 700-plus yards. Did a very nice job.
“Ellington’s a young guy with a lot of talent and Quinton, in my estimation, is a young player that hasn’t gotten an opportunity. Now’s his opportunity. Let’s see what he can do.”
Still, Baalke was coy about the Niners potentially using a pick on a receiver. The Niners do, after all, have nine selections.
“Now, is that to say we’re not going to make a pick, look for another wide receiver?” Baalke wondered aloud. “I’m not saying that at all.
“But (I) don’t feel like we have to be pressured into making a decision like that.”
Then again, Baalke did use a first-rounder on A.J. Jenkins in 2012, and that did not work out so well for the Niners.