Here at Niners Nation, we're presenting a series called "90-in-90". We'll be looking at every player on the 49ers offseason roster, one player per post, from now until the start of training camp.
For many years after the departure of Terrell Owens, the 49ers struggled to find decent, consistent wide receivers. They finally found one in Michael Crabtree who is much more than just decent. Crabtree became the 49ers first thousand yard receiver since TO, and was a dominant force on third downs for the 49ers. Beyond Crabtree, it's been a crapshoot through the rest of the wide receiver depth chart in the Harbaugh era.
After an injury plagued 2011 season left the team woefully thin at wide receiver, the team added solid talent in Mario Manningham, and aging veteran Randy Moss. Manningham was a solid contributor before blowing out his knee late in the season. Moss struggled to put up numbers, but still kept defenses honest. Kyle Williams seemed to be coming along, but he suffered a knee injury in November. All in all, while it wasn't disastrous, it was not a pretty picture at wide receiver in 2012.
The 49ers made an inexpensive but still bold move in March, as they dealt away a sixth round pick for Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin. It was a cheap deal primarily because Boldin was not looking to take a pay-cut with the Ravens. Personally, I think John Harbaugh had a say in getting him to San Francisco, but we'll never know the full story there.
Boldin comes to the 49ers coming off a very solid 2012 campaign. He finished the regular season with 65 catches for 921 yards and four touchdowns. 49ers fans probably also remember his ten catch, 104 yards, one touchdown Super Bowl performance as well. Boldin had a strong postseason for the Ravens, with a four-game total of 36 catches, 380 yards and four touchdowns. It's safe to say, Boldin brought his A-game in the postseason.
Anquan Boldin has put up very good numbers over the course of his career, but he has often been second fiddle, spending much of his career somewhat in the shadow of Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona. The 49ers do not need spectacular from Boldin, but rather what we have seen the last few years. Over the last three years, Boldin has averaged 62 catches, 881 yards and just under five touchdowns each season. Those are not monster numbers, but if the 49ers could get that behind Crabtree, they would be in great shape.
One area that sometimes gets overlooked is Boldin's physicality as a blocker. Adding Boldin to Crabtree and Vernon Davis gives the 49ers three skill position players that can block as well as anybody in the NFL. If you're a fan of the 49ers physical side, this has to have you incredibly excited.
Why he could improve in 2013
I don't expect improvement from Boldin in 2013, but with a more dynamic quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, anything is possible. Joe Flacco is obviously a good quarterback. I'm sure like minds will differ on where exactly he ranks in the spectrum of current quarterbacks, but I think he is a good quarterback. That being said, Colin Kaepernick is likely just barely scratching the surface of what he can do. Get Boldin a great quarterback, and I could see his numbers get a little bump.
Why he could regress in 2013
This is where it gets interesting. We're all excited about adding Anquan Boldin, and for the price, excitement is justified. And yet, we're talking about a wide receiver who turns 33 in October and is entering his eleventh year. Boldin is arguably the toughest receiver in the NFL, but all that physicality eventually wears a man down. I obviously would prefer it not be this year, but that is always a concern. It is not so much about losing a step, because speed is not really his game. Rather, it's just the wear and tear that builds up over a long NFL career.
Complacency after getting a ring would also be a concern with some players, but there seems to be a certain professionalism about Boldin that makes me think this will not be an issue. It very well could, but I just have a hunch it is not something to be concerned over.
Odds of making the roster
Anquan Boldin is a lock for this roster, so the question for him becomes how the team spreads the ball around. The team has so many weapons at this point without even considering the running backs. At wide receiver the 49ers have Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Mario Manningham (once healthy), Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins and Quinton Patton (among others). At tight end, Vernon Davis remains a major threat, and they've added Vance McDonald to potentially fill the Delanie Walker role. I know Greg Roman and company will work hard to figure out how to get the most out of this offense, but