Editor's Note: Here is the third installment of a five-part series on the organization’s top offseason priorities..

The future of the 49ers’ best and most consistent playmaker over the past three seasons is up in the air.

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin, 35, the newly crowned Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, is scheduled for unrestricted free agency. During Super Bowl week, he said he did not know how or if he would fit into Chip Kelly's scheme.

When told Kelly likes big, physical wide receivers, Boldin said, laughing, “Then I’ll fit in.”

Speedster Torrey Smith returns after averaging 20.1 yards per reception. But he had just 33 receptions and four touchdowns and never found his niche in a 49ers offense that was lampooned for being too simplistic and not creating conflicts for opposing defenses.

[RELATED: Smith: 'This is probably the best offense' for Kap]

Quinton Patton was the 49ers’ third-leading wide receiver with 30 catches for 394 yards. Bruce Ellington did not contribute much, with just 13 receptions for 153 yards. And Jerome Simpson flopped with just five catches.

Two newcomers appear to have the kinds of skills that meet Kelly’s specifications. DeAndre Smelter (6 foot 2, 227 pounds) was a fourth-round draft pick who sat out his entire rookie season to rehab from ACL surgery that ended his college career. And Eric Rogers (6-3, 210) was a prized signing from the Canadian Football League.


After spending big money on Smith last year, it’s doubtful the 49ers will again dip into the first wave of free agency. Laquon Treadwell (6-3, 216) of Ole Miss is the consensus No. 1 receiver in the draft. He could tempt the 49ers at No. 7 overall.

The 49ers must focus on the development of their young wide receivers — an area in which the organization has not excelled in quite some time.

New wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell, whom Kelly brought from the Philadelphia Eagles, will be entrusted with the responsibility of helping get Smith, Patton, Smelter and Rogers ready to perform in Kelly’s system.

But the first big development of the offseason comes when the 49ers must decide if the Man of the Year again has a spot on the team's roster.