I walked out of the Super Dome thinking two things. First, there’s no such thing as getting good value on Super Bowl tickets. Second, the San Francisco 49ers sure could use an Anquan Boldin of their very own. Boldin’s only listed at 6’1″, which means he’s probably closer to 6’0″, but he seems like he’s 6’5″ whenever he faces the Niners.
Then I checked out the list of available free agent wide receivers, and there are no Boldins to be had. Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson and “Big Mike Williams”? You betcha. But the best guys besides Dwayne Bowe are mostly on the shorter side, and they all come with question marks. Bowe is probably the top WR in free agency, and will attract a lot of suitors even after his production dipped in 2012. Mike Wallace is overrated by the masses but not by Pro Football Focus, who ranked him 91st out of 105 receivers who played in at least 25% of their teams’ snaps. Danny Amendola is intriguing, but the Rams look like they’re interested in keeping him and he has played in only 11 games over the past two seasons.
Wes Welker is an option, but it’s hard to imagine the New England Patriots letting him walk since they were forced to bring Deion Branch back. Again. It’s also tough to imagine Welker succeeding with Colin Kaepernick since he already seems to drop a fair amount of passes from Tom Brady. He’s also 32.
It’s hard to get excited over Brian Hartline (over 1,000 yards, but only 1 TD in 2012), and the Dolphins will probably extend him before free agency starts on Mar. 12 anyway. Greg Jennings is a big name, but his 2012 started with a crushing hit from Dashon Goldson and failed to get much better from there.
The 49ers will probably have 14 draft picks once the compensatory picks are distributed, but can we really trust Trent Baalke to draft an impact receiver? Ronald Johnson was a late round flier who didn’t work out; A.J. Jenkins had one of the worst seasons for a first rounder at his position over the last 30 years.
Percy Harvin is listed at 5’11″, but that’s the least of his problems. With the migraines that have kept him out of several practices over the course of his career and the ankle injury in 2012, not to mention fighting with Leslie Frazier last year (which some say is the reason why Harvin was placed on IR last year, not the severity of his ankle injury), there’s a reason why one NFL exec thinks the Vikings would be lucky to net a third round pick for him.
However, Harvin is also one of the most explosive, difficult to defend wide receivers in the game, and has some unique qualities. Harvin had the most receptions (62) of any receiver with one or fewer drops. He led the league in yards after the catch per reception (8.7) and missed tackles (22). He has returned at least one kickoff for a touchdown in each of his first four seasons.
And just think about an offense that includes Harvin, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Colin Kaepernick and choose-your-RB at the same time. That’s a damn swoosh ad come to life.
However, Harvin has a temper. Vernon mostly kept quiet when Kaepernick fed Crabtree more often than anyone else, but Harvin might be a different story. Harvin isn’t exactly the deep threat San Francisco would like to add, either.
Kyle Williams looked good going deep that one time against Chicago, but his knee isn’t a sure thing simply because he isn’t Adrian Peterson (who wants Minnesota to keep Harvin, by the way). Vernon has the ability to stretch the field, but the 49ers like him to do other things as well. There’s no getting around it. If the 49ers trade for Harvin (and they can if they so desire), they’re also going to probably have to bring Randy Moss back.
Why? Moss would probably provide a deep threat (he still scares opposing cornerbacks and safeties enough to get that cushion), and in a previous life he was a mentor to Harvin. Forget the comments about Jerry Rice and not liking his role; nobody can claim that Moss was anything other than the best thing to happen to Crabtree’s career.
Then again, the positive nature of Moss’ impact on Harvin is debatable. Tom Pelissero of ESPN1500.com had this to say, via Yahoo.
“Also worth remembering how closely Percy Harvin stays in touch with Randy Moss, who is no stranger of going public to get his way,” Pelissero continued. “I’d heard from multiple sources that after Moss got cut in 2010, he called Percy daily, telling him, ‘You need to get [then-head coach Brad] Childress fired.’ Five days after the cut, Harvin and Childress got into it, had to be separated, and Harvin ended up chucking a weight at him.”
On second thought, maybe Harvin and Moss don’t necessarily have to be a package deal.
I still think it’s a good idea for the 49ers to add the former, even with the headaches he can create — and we haven’t even gotten into the extension Harvin is seeking that would pay him a good deal more than Crabtree (who happened to have a better 2012 than Harvin). Maybe I’m just comfortable with 49ers riskiness after the move to Kaepernick. Or it could be that when it comes to the other available wide receivers, trading for Harvin seems like a relatively safe bet.