The San Francisco 49ers struck gold in this year’s draft, as the rich got richer hours later, signing undrafted free agent Victor Bolden of Oregon State, poised to make his name at the next level. The game has evolved exponentially on the offensive side of the ball, in particular speed and finesse coupled with versatility, as Bolden has exhibited both throughout his college career. While with the Beavers, he was the focal point of the offense, used as a primary weapon in the running game, receiving game, and on special teams. A raw talent possessing a plethora of skills, Bolden will have much to prove in the Bay Area.
Lackluster at best, the league’s 31st ranked offense is in dire need of a spark plug, as the 49ers averaged just 308.1 yards per game in 2016. Under head coach and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, Bolden is sure to make an immediate impact, showcasing a multitude of game-changing talents. As seen with the 2016 NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, Shanahan is a genius and further innovator offensively, hence the perfect fit as it pertains to developing Bolden.
Known for his speed above all else, Bolden is lightning in a bottle, virtually uncontainable against defenders, breaking tackles and electric once hitting the open field. Bolden’s gift instantly elevates him to a commodity of high value in San Francisco, as speed is an element of such importance that it could now be viewed as essential in today’s game. He is a quarterback’s dream, possessing sideline to sideline vision and lateral quickness, ultimately setting defenses on their heels.
Though nimble and agile speed are his biggest strength, the asset of versatility is often a make or break component on the pro level, which in Bolden’s case is most definitely on the plus side. Proving and further justifying the ideology behind this notion is receiver, return specialist, and rushing contributor Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs, arguably the team’s most deadly weapon in an arsenal of breakout potential. Both put forth a wide array of expertise offensively, as while not excelling at a single position, each are significantly formidable once experienced and/or qualified at multiple.
Hill broke out on special teams, returning 14 kicks for 384 yards and a touchdown as well as 39 punts for 592 yards and two scores. Once put on display, athleticism earned Hill a spot at receiver, in which he hauled in 61 passes for 593 yards, finding the end zone six times. In addition, he posted 24 rushes for 267 yards with three touchdowns, resulting from unmated speed and finesse. The former 2016 fifth-round pick is now projected to have earned a starting job and recurring role in the running game, receiving game, and on special teams for the Chiefs.
Nearly identical to Hill in each category mentioned above is Bolden, as his final outing in Corvallis deemed him the NFL’s next swiss army knife on the offensive side of the ball. In 12 games, Bolden filled his stat line to capacity, as the Oregon State product exhibited speed, finesse, and versatility throughout a 2016 season never to be forgotten. Bolden is projected to start at receiver, primarily in the slot, though given Kyle Shanahan’s sporadic play calling, could see himself anywhere at any given time.
Bolden caught 46 passes for 542 yards at receiver with two touchdowns, while rushing for 329 yards on 28 attempts along with two scores. That said, he accumulated 871 total yards from scrimmage, proving his value and/or worth to the team. Always willing and able, Bolden will contribute when called upon. In addition to Shanahan, veteran receiver Pierre Garcon and running back Carlos Hyde should be mentors to Bolden.
With the game’s modernized playing style and requisite tools required of prospects, Bolden will flourish under the bright lights in San Francisco. Moreover, players are now fit for certain systems implemented by those along the sidelines, as the 49ers are a perfect situation for Bolden. Nevertheless, he and Hill are a rare breed, set to rise fast and furious into superstardom, ultimately primed to set the game’s newest standard.