Keeping key vets vital for 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- On Monday Jim Harbaugh was asked about the San Francisco 49ers' interest in retaining kicker Phil Dawson beyond this year.

As he can be, Harbaugh became lighthearted: “Pay the man,” Harbaugh said.

The 38-year-old kicker has been brilliant in his one season with the 49ers. He has made his last 24 field-goal attempts, including eight in the past two games.

While Harbaugh was having fun, there is little doubt the 49ers will be in interested in retaining Dawson. He is showing he still has plenty left. But Dawson likely isn't the only veteran the 49ers took a one-season flier on that is paying dividends and who the team will very likely want back in 2014.

Put receiver Anquan Boldin in the same category. Acquired from Baltimore for a sixth-round pick, Boldin, 33, has been a major impact player.

While he was considered a savior when receiver Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham were out for majority of the season, Boldin is having his best season since 2009. He has 70 catches for 958 yards.

He is actually becoming more important down the stretch. In the three games Crabtree has been active, Boldin, the NFL's leading receiver this season on third down, has been a huge part of the offense. The reason is he is seeing less double teams and he is making defenses pay.

San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke said earlier in the season the 49ers value Boldin on and off the field and they would love to have him back.

Give the team kudos on these two deals. A consistent kicker and a veteran receiver were badly needed. The 49ers filled their needs brilliantly in the form of Dawson and Boldin. Now, the is task is keeping them in the fold. I'd be shocked if they both weren't big offseason priorities.