49ers' pass attack has mostly been Boldin
10/13/2013 12:00 AM
10/12/2013 11:48 PM
SANTA CLARA – Anquan Boldin said he and Larry Fitzgerald remain close and still keep in touch after six seasons together in Arizona, when they were the league's most fearsome receiving duo.
You have to wonder if the theme of their recent messages has been: Wish you were here.
Both enter today's game at Candlestick Park as part of paltry passing attacks.
Fitzgerald's Cardinals are 22nd in passing offense, and his quarterback, Carson Palmer, has thrown nine interceptions, tied for second most with Houston's Matt Schaub.
The 49ers' passing offense is 31st, averaging just 182 yards, partly because in the past two weeks the running game has awoken and the defense has held opponents to just 14 points.
The 49ers simply haven't needed to put the ball in the air. And aside from Boldin, quarterback Colin Kaepernick hasn't had a lot of options when he does drop back to pass.
Boldin said this week he is seeing more double teams than at any other point in his 11-year career.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman agreed.
"He got doubled quite a bit last week, especially on third down," Roman said. "There's a lot of different ways you can play doubles, and he's seen all of them this year. And it's just becoming more prevalent. And it's to be expected, really."
Through five games, Boldin has 67 percent of the team's wide-receiver catches, 78 percent of the wide-receiver receiving yards and all of the team's wide-receiver touchdowns.
Roman said he would like to see another wideout take some of the pressure off Boldin. Kyle Williams, Quinton Patton and Jon Baldwin all have gotten opportunities this season, but against the Texans last Sunday, Boldin was the only 49ers wideout who caught a pass.
Baldwin started against the Texans and Kaepernick's first pass – an incompletion – was intended for him. Baldwin, who joined the team in August, still is picking up the offense and developing chemistry with Kaepernick.
But the team sees potential in his size – 6-foot-4, 230 pounds – and speed.
"He's one of those guys that you have to pay attention to," Boldin said. "He's a big-bodied guy. He creates mismatch problems for a lot of defensive backs. You can't just leave him out there."
National reports last week indicated the 49ers and Browns had discussed a trade for talented but troubled wideout Josh Gordon. The 6-3, 225-pound receiver was suspended for the first two games this season but still leads Cleveland's wideouts with 303 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The reports said the teams have not agreed on compensation.
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski insisted the Browns, who traded running back Trent Richardson last month, would hold onto their top receiver.
"We're not shopping Josh and we have no plans of trading Josh," Chudzinski told The Cleveland Plain Dealer on Wednesday.
The 49ers could have Mario Manningham back as early as next week, but it's likely he would be worked into the lineup gradually. And the 49ers envision him more as a situational receiver, as they did last year, rather than an every-down, No. 2 wideout.
Roman was asked if he felt his "hands were tied" as a play caller because of the lack of a clear complement to Boldin.
"Absolutely not, no," he said. "Guys are busting their tails, working hard, and it's just the opposite. Love the attitude. Love how we're approaching it. Love how the guys work. And we just got to continue to improve."
Read Matthew Barrows' blogs at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320.
About This BlogMatt Barrows 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 Sacramento Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the San Francisco 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green. Reach Barrows at email@example.com.
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