So, umm, that Anquan Boldin trade is looking pretty good I imagine. Apologies for taking this long to get a Boldin-specific thread up. I know people are enjoying the discussion following his monster debut.
Earlier in the offseason, when the San Francisco 49ers dealt a sixth round for Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin, most of us agreed it was a great deal for the 49ers. Little did we know that he would exceed most of our wildest expectations right out of the gate.
In his debut with the 49ers, Boldin hauled in 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown. It marked the third straight time he put up 100+ yards in his debut with a team. It was a 49ers opening day record for yards. All in all not too shabby.
And yet, the numbers alone might not do Boldin enough justice. In putting together this dominant performance, Boldin showed off virtually every facet of his game. He showed spectacular hands, great route-running, ability to extend his routes, ability to find holes in zones, and even some great blocking work on runs.
I was going to write about how Boldin's 15-yard reception on fourth down summed up his day, but you could point to several catches as a perfect example of what Boldin brings to the table. He made clutch catches all day long, and was Colin Kaepernick's favorite target by a long shot, with his 17 targets nearly nearly doubling Vernon Davis's nine.
It will be interesting to see how the Seahawks defend Boldin this coming week. The 49ers passing game focused on Boldin and Vernon Davis. I imagine the Seahawks will look to take one or both of those guys out of the game, and force the 49ers other receivers and tight ends to step up. Of course, if they focus on Boldin and/or Davis, it could open up the running game even more.
Alex Boone had a great comment after the game:
#49ers Alex Boone on #Ravens getting 6th rounder in return for Boldin. "someone might have made a boo-boo."— Bill Williamson (@BWilliamsonESPN) September 9, 2013
Here are various post-game comments about Boldin from 49ers and Packers coaches and players, along with Anquan Boldin's own post-game press conference.
Jim Harbaugh: "Fabulous game by Anquan Boldin. I don't know how many yards he had but there were a lot. A couple hundred maybe and some tremendous catches."
Tim Drevno, OL coach: "Very special player, unbelievably special."
Colin Kaepernick: "They kept letting him get open and, I mean, he went out there, he played like a grown man today. He made plays even when he shouldn't have. If he plays like that, he is going to get the ball even more."
Alex Boone: "It's awesome having him here. That was probably the best thing we did this offseason was get him. And he's a great leader, a great person, love blocking for him, love watching him play."
Tarell Brown: "He's a monster. You see what he can do. Anytime a guy can go out there in this type of game against the Green Bay Packers and come out with 13 catches for 208 yards, that's amazing. He's going to be our go-to guy and we have to go out there and make sure we have guys around him who are making plays as well."
Frank Gore: "He is a ball player, a good football player. He is tough and he works hard. He is a guy who has done it and continues to do it. It is not surprising. I have played against him and seen what he did against us. I'm happy he is on our team and now he is doing it to the other teams."
Joe Staley: "He's a big-time player and made big-time catches today. He really showed up, especially on third down. He made a ton of catches in traffic. He was a real difference maker for us. He was a guy that [QB Colin] Kaepernick could go to. We needed someone to make a big play and we're real happy obviously to have him on our football team."
Patrick Willis: "Anquan, that's what you call a free agent acquisition. To see him come in and do what he did today; honestly I've seen him do it all training camp. To see him get out there and do it in a game it's pretty much that saying, ‘You play the way you practice.' I see him making one-handed catches, making catches that would be over most peoples' heads. He's going to try to catch everything that's sent his way. We're very happy to have him and I know he's going to continue to shine for us."
Mike McCarthy, Packers head coach: "He made the plays and tough catches. There were a couple of plays where we had him doubled and he still made the plays so you have to take your hat off to him. He had a big day today."
Jerron McMillan, Packers safety: "He is a tough receiver. He is strong at the point of catch. We've just got to keep tackling and play team defense."
Sam Shields, Packers cornerback: "Boldin is Boldin. He has been in this league for a long time. He is an aggressive guy, strong at the ball, he is great all around. He is a great blocker as well."
WR Anquan Boldin
Press Conference - September 8, 2013
San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers
You practiced a lot in this offense, but until you actually get out on this field in a regular season game, did you envision having this big game that you had today?
"Not the type of memories that I have today. I expected to come out and play well. We practiced well over the last couple of weeks, getting prepared for Green Bay. I thought our coach did a great job game planning. This entire off season, we knew they were going to come in ready to play because of what happened in the playoffs, so we had to come in ready to match their intensity. I thought we did that as a team."
What was your strategy to stay open so much?
"Strategy? I don't know if there is a strategy. You know, for me, it's my job to catch the ball and anytime [QB Colin] Kaepernick throws the ball my way, I want to make sure it's a completion. I want to make a completion. Just to build that confidence, and that was my mind set going into the game."
Out of the thirteen catches you had today, were you the primary receiver or were you checked down in the open?
"On a couple, I was the primary, there were a couple where I was the second or third option and then we hit a couple scramble plays. I'm not the number one option on all of them. I know every receiver would love to be, but that's just not how it works."
On the fourth down play, it was covered early. What was going through your mind as the play was developing?
"Just stay alive. Whenever you have a quarterback like [Colin] Kaepernick, he can get outside the pocket and make plays happen. So if a play does break down initially, you need to stay alive with him because he is great at getting outside the pocket and throwing the ball accurately, even if it's across his body."
Did you watch the 49ers vs. Packers playoff game last year?
Even though you were in a different conference, was there something you saw in that game that helped you today?
"I think it was, as I said, just watching them over there in the off season. Like I said, the coaches did a great job game planning for them. There were some plays in there that we schemed up just for them, that we thought would be there and they were."
You went for 217 yards in your first game in the NFL, is there something about debut games that work for you? Or is there something about you wanting to show something?
"I guess this is a debut game in the NFC West, huh? You know, you never know when your number is going to get called, you never know when you're going to get that big play, so you just have to be prepared. I know that every game isn't going to be like this. I'm not going to be targeted as much as I was today in every game. One game it's going to be Vernon [Davis], another game K-Dub [WR Kyle Williams], another game [RB] Frank [Gore]. You just have to be prepared for when your number is called."
You obviously have some great chemistry with your quarterback last year, how do you feel about what you have with [QB Colin] Kaepernick compares with what you had with [QB] Joe [Flacco]?
"We are getting there, we are going. I think the more we play together the better we will be. The great thing that me and Kap have, is communication. We've been able to communicate throughout the entire camp, on every play. I'm coming to the sideline, he's asking me what I'm saying and I'm asking him the same thing. ‘Is there anything you want me to do different?' He's asking me if I want him to place the ball in a certain place. There's a lot of communication between us and I think that whenever you have that communication, it bodes well for corp receiver and quarterback."
When you were growing up, were you a fan of Jerry Rice? I'm wondering if wearing a 49er jersey means anything to you.
"I was a 49ers fan growing up. Yeah, although I wasn't a receiver growing up. I was a quarterback so I never specifically looked at Jerry Rice, but I was a 49er fan growing up."
Were you a Joe Montana Fan?
"Ronnie Lott was my favorite player."
So you ran off the field, even with a PR guy trailing you, were you not trying to do interviews? What did you do that?
"No, that's just how I am. I don't go out for the coin toss, I go to the locker room. For me this is a business. I come out here to do a job and hopefully I do my job well."
Nice t-shirt, does it mean anything?
Do you have a dog like that?
"No, I have a Cane Corso, it's a lot bigger than this one."
It was pretty clear that the Packers weren't going to let Colin beat them with his legs today. What did you think of his accuracy in the pocket?
"I think he played well. He did exactly what we know he is capable of doing. He did exactly what he needed to do. I keep telling people how good of a quarterback he is, everybody looks at how athletic he is and that he's a ‘running quarterback' but he is a quarterback first. Being able to run is just a bonus for him."