Ailene Voisin, sports columnist
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  • José Luis Villegas /

    The 49ers' Anquan Boldin (81) shakes free of Green Bay's Jerron McMillian for a 10-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.

  • José Luis Villegas /

    Anquan Boldin cuts and darts for a 22-yard gain on one of his 13 receptions. His 208 receiving yards broke Jerry Rice's team record for receiving yards on opening day.

  • Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin: Boldin deal was one heck of a steal for 49ers

Published: Monday, Sep. 9, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Friday, Sep. 13, 2013 - 8:34 am

SAN FRANCISCO – Hmmmmm. Wonder what the Baltimore Ravens are thinking now? That they let one slip away? That they escaped the 49ers in the Super Bowl but might have blown the Anquan Boldin trade?

A steal. A bargain. A timely investment. It has taken Boldin exactly one game to establish his value to a franchise that has designs on a new stadium and, in the more immediate future, a return to the Super Bowl.

As Colin Kaepernick's favorite new target – at least while Michael Crabtree recovers from his Achilles' injury – Boldin exploited the Green Bay Packers for 13 receptions, 208 yards, one touchdown, including one of the prettiest plays and one of the most significant fourth-down conversions of the afternoon.

"We had him doubled at times, and on big third downs and on the corner routes, whatever you call it, he goes up and makes the play," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "The fourth-down call, we had him one-on-one, we ran a blitz and stopped the initial (gain), the quarterback extended the play he slipped inside, and they converted."

For the better part of the afternoon, this was an old-fashioned shootout, a day of passing fancy. One team scored; the other team answered.

If Kaepernick wasn't finding Boldin or tight end Vernon Davis with his lasers, Aaron Rodgers was eluding the rush and throwing darts at Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson.

True, there were plenty of cheap shots and late hits (Clay Matthews) to keep the officials occupied and the crowd aroused, and contributions from other 49ers newcomers, most notably Phil Dawson's first field goal and numerous punishing hits by rookie safety Eric Reid, who also collected the first interception of his NFL career.

But Boldin, 32, was the guy, the topic du jour. He might only earn $6 million and was acquired from the Ravens for a mere sixth-round draft choice, but he owned the third quarter.

His entire repertoire was on display: his superb route running, his ability to find soft spots in the defense, his willingness to use his strength – he is 220 pounds with large biceps and thick shoulders – to separate from defenders.

With the score 14-14 and the 49ers hoping to strike quickly in the second half, Kaepernick repeatedly went to the 11-year veteran and set up the go-ahead score with that pretty play – a nifty 9-yard throw that led his wideout down the sideline.

Boldin, who is neither explosive nor particularly fast, is also persistent; he fully extended to reach the ball, tapping it with his right hand before gathering the pass to his chest with both palms.

"They kept letting him get open," Kaepernick explained with a slight smile. "He made plays even when he shouldn't have. If he plays like that, he's going to get the ball even more."

Later, the two combined for the most important receptions of the afternoon: With three minutes remaining, the 49ers confronted a fourth and 2 at the Green Bay 36. Following a timeout, the Packers came hard at Kaepernick, forcing him to improvise. As he scrambled to his right, he saw Boldin break loose from cornerback Tramon Williams and found his wideout for another reception and 15 crucial yards.

"If a play breaks down initially, you need to stay alive because (Kaepernick) is great at getting out of the pocket and throwing the ball accurately, even if it's across his body," said Boldin, who eclipsed Jerry Rice's franchise record (169 yards) for most receiving yards on opening day. "Just stay alive."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Call The Bee's Ailene Voisin (916) 321-1208 and follow her on Twitter @ailene_voisin.

Read more articles by Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from UNLV and a law degree from the University of San Diego before committing full time to journalism.

Her career includes stops at the San Diego Union, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and time spent as the backup beat writer for Dodgers and Angels, Clippers and NBA beat writer, sports columnist, along with numerous assignments covering international events and the Olympics. Ailene joined The Sacramento Bee in 1997.

Phone: 916-321-1208
Twitter: @ailene_voisin

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