“Caepernick to Boldin” doesn’t roll off the tongue like “Montana to Rice”. But who cares if you’re a Niners fan?
By: Rich Bergeron
Anquan Boldin's trade to the San Francisco 49ers is working out just fine for the veteran wide receiver coming over from the Baltimore Ravens. Looking back on Boldin's dominance after the final whistle of his week one Niners debut, if Joe Flacco was watching, he must have been weeping in his Wheaties.
Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick (27-39 for 412 yds., 3 TDs in week one) rejoiced in his good fortune in obtaining a new high value target. He threw more than half of his total yards through the air on Sunday to Boldin. The new fixture in the 49ers receiving corps caught 13 passes Sunday for 208 yards and a touchdown.
A trade between the Harbaugh brothers sent Boldin from John's Ravens to Jim's Niners after the two butted coaching heads at last year's Superbowl. As John watched his own team get blasted by Peyton Manning's passing attack Thursday, he must have realized the void left by the absence of Boldin. None of Joe Flacco's receivers managed even half as many yards as Boldin in week one. The close calls and long yardage third downs Boldin was famous for converting into first downs made Baltimore's Superbowl run possible last season. Without their star receiver, they could barely compete with the AFC Superbowl Favorite Denver Broncos.
The Ravens simply didn't know what they had, and they also couldn't possibly understand how much Boldin would strengthen San Francisco's offense. Their gamble that Boldin was slowing down and getting old turned out to be a huge disappointment.
Boldin's one-handed circus catching ability is a perfect match for Kaepernick's throwing style, and his presence is guaranteed to improve the third-down conversion rate for the Niners. Kaepernick will also benefit from Boldin's prowess by not having to resort to running the ball himself so much. Week one saw Kaepernick scamper for just 22 yards on 7 attempts.
Boldin's fantasy football owners are kicking themselves Monday morning if they left Boldin on the bench Sunday afternoon. He proved all his doubters wrong with a strong showing in adapting to his new squad. No single player in the league who left one team to join another made the difference that Boldin made this week. Wes Welker's departure obviously hurt New England and helped Denver, but the Patriots still managed to eke out a win without him. Baltimore seemed to lack an offensive identity without Boldin while the 49ers looked to be building a new identity for a much more powerful passing game than their opponents are used to seeing.
Boldin will only continue to improve as the weeks roll on and Kaepernick grows more and more confident that wherever he throws it, Boldin can reach it. He shakes up an already-daunting offense that came within a whisker of winning it all last year in Kapernick's first season as a starting QB. If week one is any indication of how Boldin will help this team, 49ers fans should start planning their Superbowl parties now.