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Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin (81), shown against the Rams on Dec. 1, was a point man for the 49ers this season, leading the team with 85 pass receptions.

Boldin caught on fast in first season with 49ers

Published: Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 - 11:24 pm
Last Modified: Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014 - 7:22 am

Anquan Boldin says it didn’t take long after the 49ers traded for the wide receiver in March for him to realize he had fallen “right into a good situation.”

“The team was hungry,” Boldin said Friday of a 49ers team that at the time was weeks removed from losing in the Super Bowl. “So I felt like I fit right in.”

That might seem a little counterintuitive, as the 49ers’ 34-31 Super Bowl loss came against the Baltimore Ravens and Boldin. But the veteran receiver said the tone around the 49ers’ facility upon his arrival resonated with him nonetheless.

“I’ve been in that position – lost a Super Bowl, and it left a bitter taste in my mouth,” said Boldin, who played for the Arizona Cardinals when they lost Super Bowl XLIII to the Pittsburgh Steelers. “Every time I get a chance to right that taste, I’m going to take advantage of it.”

Boldin wasted little time asserting himself as a factor in the 49ers’ passing game in Week 1, catching 13 passes for 208 yards in a 34-28 win over the Green Bay Packers, whom San Francisco will face Sunday in the wild-card round of the NFC playoffs.

It was the beginning of a season in which Boldin caught 85 passes for 1,179 yards while becoming quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s most consistent target. He also caught seven touchdown passes, while his yardage total was his highest in a season since 2006, when he amassed 1,203 yards with Arizona.

Friday, Boldin was named the recipient of this year’s Bill Walsh Award, which is voted on by 49ers coaches and given to the team’s MVP. The receiver said the announcement was made at a team meeting.

“It means a lot because it comes from guys that get a chance to see you every day, get to see what kind of guy you are, what kind of work you put in,” Boldin said.

In the season opener, Boldin had five receptions of 22 or more yards against a Green Bay defense that was loading up to stop the run, conscious of Kaepernick’s record-breaking rushing performance in the previous postseason. Team offensive coordinator Greg Roman, though, said Boldin also “created opportunities for himself” in the opener.

“Certain players, when they see that happening, it becomes a feeding frenzy,” Roman said. “He is one of those, and there’s not too many of them out there.”

Kaepernick said a similar situation arose in the season finale Sunday, when Arizona matched cornerback Patrick Peterson against Michael Crabtree for much of the game and left a “mismatch” on Boldin, who caught nine passes for 149 yards.

Much of Boldin’s production this season came with Crabtree sidelined with an Achilles’ tendon injury. Boldin, who said earlier in the season he was drawing several double teams, reported Friday that has changed with Crabtree’s return in Week 12. In the past five games, Boldin has caught 33 passes for 455 yards.

“You have to pick your poison,” Boldin said. “Who do you double – me, Crab, (tight end Vernon Davis), or put eight, nine guys in the box to stop the run game? It’s kind of hard to do.”

Corners questionable – Toward the end of Friday’s practice, cornerback Carlos Rogers walked past reporters in street clothes and was asked about his nagging right hamstring.

“I ran on it,” Rogers said, “but I don’t know.”

Rogers, who hasn’t missed a game since joining the 49ers in 2011, is listed on the team’s injury report as questionable for Sunday. His potential replacement, Eric Wright, is also questionable, though he did practice Friday after appearing on the injury report for the first time Thursday.

Coach Jim Harbaugh was asked if Wright strained his hamstring in practice Thursday and said: “I wouldn’t even call it that. He’s back practicing today.”

Award season – A year after having a franchise-record six first-team NFL All-Pro selections, the 49ers had one in 2013: linebacker NaVorro Bowman. Offensive tackle Joe Staley, linebacker Ahmad Brooks, defensive lineman Justin Smith and tight end Vernon Davis were voted to the second team by The Associated Press.

Bowman’s fellow inside linebacker, Patrick Willis, did not make the first or second team for the first time in his seven-year career.

Bowman, the 49ers’ leading tackler with 145 combined and a candidate for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award, also received the team’s most prestigious honor, the Len Eshmont Award, which is voted on by players and honors “inspirational and courageous play.”


Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

Read more articles by Matt Kawahara



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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