Boldin meets expectations in 1st year with 49ers
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP)
A meticulous worker who never takes a snap off even in practice. A fierce competitor who only gets better when the stakes get larger. The consummate pro.
Through 16 regular-season games that featured 85 catches for 1,179 yards and seven touchdowns, Boldin more than lived up to his billing in his first season with the 49ers, and was chosen the winner of the Bill Walsh Award as team MVP on Friday.
''Anquan Boldin is a football player,'' Jim Harbaugh said this week. ''Let me say it again, Anquan Boldin is a football player. And, that sums up everything. That's the highest compliment you could give somebody that plays the game of football.''
The Niners saw firsthand what Boldin can do on the stage of the postseason a year ago when he played a big role in winning the Super Bowl for the Ravens and denying the 49ers their sixth title.
He caught a 13-yard pass for the first score of the game, and finished with six receptions for 104 yards. The biggest of those catches might have come in the fourth quarter when Boldin caught a 15-yard pass from Joe Flacco on third-and-1 with Carlos Rogers draped all over him.
That set up Baltimore's last field goal that forced the 49ers to go for a touchdown on their final drive instead of being able to win the game with a field goal.
Now Boldin tries to get the Niners past that last hurdle in this postseason, starting Sunday in Green Bay.
''I felt like I fit right in,'' he said. ''`Just coming off a Super Bowl loss, everybody wanted to get back to that game and make things right. I've been in that position, lost a Super Bowl, and it left a bitter taste in my mouth. Every time I get the chance to wipe that taste off, I'm going to take advantage of it.''
Despite his importance to the team, the Ravens dealt Boldin to San Francisco for a sixth-round pick when he wouldn't restructure the contract that owed him $6 million this season.
While the Ravens failed to make the playoffs, the 49ers won 12 games in part because Boldin helped fill the void created by an offseason torn right Achilles tendon that sidelined Michael Crabtree for the first 11 games.
With an offense that has an abundance of threats for quarterback Colin Kaepernick, including tight end Vernon Davis and running back Frank Gore, and a stingy defense, Boldin sees a team that can do just what his Ravens did a year ago.
''I don't see why we can't,'' he said. ''I think we're suited perfectly.''
Boldin has always been one of the most reliable receivers in the game with his 857 career catches since entering the league in 2003, ranking fifth in that span. He had 62 catches go for first downs this season, including a league-leading 27 on third down. He became the same kind of security blanket for Kaepernick that he was for Flacco in Baltimore and Kurt Warner in Arizona.
He has thrived when opposing defenses have tried to stack up against the run.
''Certain players, when they see that happening, it becomes a feeding frenzy,'' offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. ''And he is one of those, and there's not too many of them out there. You saw it a little bit last week with him. But, he's always been a great football player, somebody I've admired from afar and even more now that we've had a chance to work with him.''
Boldin was at his best in his debut for San Francisco when he caught 13 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown in a 34-28 win over Green Bay.
He then capped his season with his second best game with nine catches for 149 yards and a score in a season-ending win over Arizona that clinched the fifth seed for San Francisco.
''He's one of the stronger receivers in the league, a very good route runner,'' Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. ''Knows how to get open, very good after the catch. He runs strong with the football. He goes up and gets the ball, he has very good hands. He's a talented guy. I think the Niners are probably looking back at that and pretty happy about that acquisition.''
NOTES: The 49ers will hold a walkthrough at Lambeau Field on Saturday to try to acclimate to the cold. ... Rogers did not practice for a third straight day and is questionable with a hamstring injury. ... CB Eric Wright (hamstring) and LB Dan Skuta (foot) are also questionable.
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report
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