The first week of the NFL season has taught us two connected lessons.
The San Francisco 49ers hit the jackpot with wideout Anquan Boldin, who steps in as their best wide receiver and one of their most explosive offensive weapons. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Ravens, who lost Boldin, are looking, searching, and scratching for a threatening presence in what appeared to be a lackluster passing attack on Thursday night in Denver.
In Ozzie We Trust is the saying continually perpetuated by the Raven fan base — but GM Ozzie Newsome flat out got it wrong with this one. To top it all off instead of, "paying the man his money," they gave away one of their best players from a championship-winning squad for a sixth-round draft pick.
Colin Kaepernick, for the first time in his career, threw for more than 400 yards against the Green Bay Packers. The second-year quarterback is evolving, but having an elite wideout like Boldin makes the job that much easier. Boldin’s Michael Jordan-like leadership presence makes all the players on the offensive side of the ball better.
In Anquan Boldin, you get 3-for-1. Being a great pass-catching wide receiver is the most obvious of his talents, but there is a lot more to him than that. Another intangible is being a great leader in the locker room, which will foster work ethic and character.
Boldin coaches guys on the field as well as in the meeting rooms, often teaching young receivers the tricks of the trade. He gives insight that coaches are not even particularly keen to. Boldin was instrumental in helping develop Torrey Smith of the Ravens during the two years they played together.
Also overlooked is the ability of wide receivers to block. Anquan is so physical and strong, he is like having a small tight end in the slot or wideout position. He dominates and bullies the secondary and is not afraid to throw his weight against larger defensive players. The Hey Diddle Diddle, Ray Rice up the middle fourth-down play was sprung by a knockout shot of San Diego Chargers DB Eric Weddle, courtesy of Boldin.
Boldin, a devout Christian and family man would often lead Bible study in the Ravens locker room. Q would often deliver sermon-like words of inspiration drawn from the Bible. During every training camp, Boldin would have his son at practice. Coach John Harbaugh allowed players’ children to stay overnight in their rooms throughout the duration of camp. You could find Anquan Jr. on the practice field playing wideout against the other players’ and coaches’ kids once practice started.
My impact player of the week started his career exactly 10 years ago with 14 receptions, 217 yards receiving yards and two touchdowns in the best game of his career. Ten years later, the former second-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals was believed to be slower and not quite what he was entering this season. All he did was have the second-best day of his career on Sunday with 13 receptions, 208 yards receiving and a touchdown.