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Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Breaking down Anquan Boldin deal

By Bill Williamson

As I traveled for much of the day to ESPN headquarters on Monday, the San Francisco 49ers, as expected, finalized a deal to retain receiver Anquan Boldin. Boldin, 33, signed a two-year deal worth $12 million with $9 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder.

The following are some thoughts on the deal.

Good deal for team: There were rumblings that Boldin would sign for three years. Two years is better for the team with his age. Receivers can fall off the cliff rather quickly. So the 49ers are protected. Boldin should still be effective for the life of this new deal. Re-signing Boldin was never really a question. He is too good of a fit with the offense, coaching staff, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and locker room. The trade of a sixth-round draft pick to Baltimore last year was a big win for San Francisco. Extending Boldin continues the victory.

Nice gift to Jim Harbaugh: There have been so many reports of acrimony between Harbaugh and the front office. This deal ought to make Harbaugh happy. He gushes about Boldin at every chance. Harbaugh knows the impact Boldin has on Kaepernick, and he knows that he is a third-down conversion machine. Plus, the feeling is mutual. Boldin told reports Monday that he “laughed" at a local report that suggested Harbaugh is losing the locker room.

Still need a young receiver: We all know how well Boldin and Michael Crabtree played together when Crabtree returned from an Achilles injury in December. That combination should continue to work well in 2014. That doesn’t mean the 49ers won’t add to the position. I fully expect San Francisco to draft a receiver in the early rounds to help now and in the future.

Whitner becomes top priority: Boldin was the team’s top priority in free agency. Now that he is secured, expect safety Donte Whitner to go to the top of the line on the team’s wish list. But there are no guarantees he will sign before free agency starts March 11. The other priorities are to re-sign kicker Phil Dawson and cornerback Tarell Brown. But Monday’s signing of Boldin was an excellent start to the 49ers’ offseason plan -- to keep their own best players.