By Jerrell Richardson
Name: Anquan Boldin – WR – #81
Position: Wide Receiver
Height: 6′ 1″
Hometown: Pahokee, Florida
College: Florida State
Experience: 11 years
The old saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them,” and after falling to the Ravens in last year’s Super Bowl, San Francisco did just that this past off season, trading for former Baltimore wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
This move immediately improved the team by giving the 49ers another potent weapon on offense to compliment the emerging Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis.
The plan was to make Boldin the second receiving target after Crabtree, however a torn achilles tendon earlier this offseason has changed the game plan. Now Boldin will be asked to be quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s safety blanket until reinforcements arrive or Crabtree recovers.
To step into a new system with new coaches and to be surrounded by new players is no simple transition, but if anyone can do this, it’s Boldin, who has spent his entire football life adjusting his game to changes around him.
As a senior he was named the Florida Player of the Year and also earned the title, “Mr. Football.” It was no surprise that he picked collegiate powerhouse Florida State. It took only 23 games for Boldin to prove his worth, totaling 118 catches, 1,790 yards and 21 touchdowns. Despite his gaudy numbers, NFL teams were scared off by a slow 40 yard dash time at the NFL Combine, and he fell to the 54th overall pick when the Arizona Cardinals made their selection.
Boldin wasted no time announcing his arrival to the NFL. In his first game he set the Arizona rookie record for 216 receiving yards in one game. After his first season, he was named to the Pro Bowl. Playing opposite superstar Larry Fitzgerald, the dynamic duo enjoyed immense statistical success for several seasons together with the Cardinals, but after modest post season results and one Super Bowl loss, Boldin was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2010 for a 5th round pick.
Despite the change in culture, Boldin still excelled on the field, and really made his mark in the playoffs. Since joining the Ravens in 2010 he has played in eight playoff games, and only twice have defenders managed to keep him out of the end zone. To have a player that you know is going to show up when the lights are the brightest is invaluable, and for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, this makes him a vital acquisition.
Until Crabtree returns, the offense will still be just a shell of its self. Eventually the 49ers will be a match up nightmare, as there will be few teams able to cover the 49ers new one-two punch in single coverage, which will open up the entire field.
Until then, there is no reason to panic. He is capable of making up for the production of Crabtree. In his new role, Boldin will be targeted early and often, giving him plenty of opportunities to compile numbers.
It is only a matter of time until the 49ers find themselves back on the goal line and in need of a score and this time around the opposition will have to do more than hold Davis. This time the defenders will have to worry about Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore, and Vernon Davis.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.