We all heard the saying, “there’s no “I” in team.” And while many sports are individually based such as golf, the game of football is not. Football is a team sport, where many individuals need to come together, to achieve a common goal, winning. And although that is easier said than done, the 49ers find themselves showered with Pro Bowl talent, making life easier for all players involved to get a win. The Niners consistently find top tier talent either via the draft or free-agency, and with the addition of this year’s free-agent splash WR Anquan Boldin, he only further validates my stance.
When the 49ers traded away their sixth-round draft pick, in exchange for Boldin’s services, I could not believe my eyes. The trade was clearly lopsided, as the Niners received the better end of the deal. Widely considered as a top wide receiver in this league, Boldin was voted by his peers as one of the best, as he was ranked No. 93 on NFL Network’s Top 100 players of 2013. A player that possesses some of the best hands in football, Boldin will only help bolster a young wide receivers unit. And no player will benefit more than WR Michael Crabtree.
For the first time in Crabtree’s career, he will no longer be the focal point of the defense. No longer can defenses shift their focus toward his side of the field, as Boldin is smart enough to break his route to find an open seam. Aside from his football IQ, Boldin has the route running down to a science. He runs precise routes, quick breaks, while earning the quarterback’s trust. This was evident in the Super Bowl, where QB Joe Flacco threw hail mary after hail mary, knowing Boldin would be in the vicinity. This bodes well for Crabtree, as he now has a dependable and smart player capable of holding his own.
I’m not saying that WR Randy Moss or WR Mario Manningham did not hold their own. They sure earned their stripes and played great ball last season. However, both of those players are no where near Boldin’s talent level, leaving Boldin to be an upgrade at the position.
And while Boldin is a rock, he will be mostly counted on in red-zone opportunities. You remember the days when QB Jeff Garcia and WR Terrell Owens would get inside the 20-yard line, and Garcia would just lob it up to Owens for a sure fire touchdown. It was automatic. I believe Boldin and Kaepernick will revive this type of threat, allowing Crabtree to work the underneath routes. Sure Kaepernick and Crabtree can make the same type of connection, but who would you rather have on a lob? I believe Boldin is the better fit, as he is stronger and more physical.
Whether the Niners utilize Boldin in red-zone opportunities or for moving the chains, one thing is clear, the defensive backs better bring their lunch pails to work, as Boldin will be taking them to school.