The San Francisco 49ers did not have a pretty win over Washington, but they made enough plays to take care of business. The defense had another strong day, while the offense scuffled along. One player who did not struggle was wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
Two weeks ago, Boldin was the subject of some significant criticism due to drops. Against the New Orleans Saints, Boldin struggled to hold onto the ball, and it almost cost the 49ers the game. On Sunday against Washington, Boldin finished the game with 9 reception for 137 yards and a touchdown, and made several huge impact plays.
The most notable early on was his 30-yard touchdown reception. He got past his defender and Kap put the ball on the money. On that play, and a previous 18-yard reception, Boldin showed the technical precision that makes those previous drops clearly a minor blip on the radar. On both catches, you could see Boldin focus on the ball and look it right into his hands. He has awareness to continue the play, but his precision when he catches the ball is actually a lot of fun to watch.
In the fourth quarter, Boldin had a huge catch that helped set up Carlos Hyde's go-ahead touchdown. Boldin ran a seam route and as he caught the ball, he took a big hit from Ryan Clark. After the game, Boldin said he knew the hit was coming in part because he saw Clark shade over before the snap of the ball. That allowed Boldin to catch the ball and it appears lower his shoulder to avoid the helmet shot to the head. Boldin was asked if he would need to go through the concussion protocol, and he said no.
There was one other moment that a few people caught, but was overlooked by others. After one play, Boldin got into some words with Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett:
Someone asked Boldin about the incident, and he sort of brushed it off. According to Boldin, a Washington defender hit him late, so he was throwing him off after the play. Haslett then decided to talk a little smack to him. Upon further questioning, Boldin said of Haslett, "He's irrelevant."
It really wasn't much of anything, but all of this just continues to add up to Boldin being one tough S.O.B. Antoine Bethea said he was one of the one or two toughest wide receivers in the game. He also said that when you went to hit Boldin, you had to bite down extra hard on your mouthpiece because "you know he brings the thump.."
Aldon Smith echoed that, although when asked if Boldin could play defense, he said maybe safety. Whatever the case, Boldin is a bad, bad man. If the 49ers make the playoffs, it will come in part due to his significant contributions.