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Boldin’s Return Has A Negative Effect?

Boldin's Return Has Negative Affect?


Written By: Michael Andrews

Before the San Fransico 49ers re-signed receiver Anquan Boldin, we expressed the unpopular opinion that if/when he returned, it would turn into a situation where he (when combined with a healthy Crabtree) would stunt the progress of Colin Kaepernick’s level of comfort with the other receivers on the team. Immediately passionate fans started insulting and attacking the opinion expressed saying that it was idiotic to say such a thing; that there is no way that Boldin would hold the team back; that Boldin and Michael Crabtree only make the team better. Yes, Boldin and Crabtree together for an entire year make this offense very good. Two sure-handed receivers, what some would call “possession receivers” on this team, makes the 49ers hard to stop (inside 20 yards, but that’s another story). But the fact remains, that with the two of them on the field, is there ever a chance that someone else, in the same position, gets a target?


Kaepernick threw the ball a total of 228 times (to wide receivers). Of those targets, Boldin and Crabtree accounted for 163 of them (71%). That means that all other receivers on the team accounted for only 65 targets (just less than 29%). Considering the 49ers have Mario Manningham, Quinton Patton, Doug Baldwin, Kassim Osgood and Kyle Williams (later traded to Kansas City), and Crabtree was absent for 11 games, one would think that another receiver would emerge as a solid second option. That (unfortunately) was not the case. The player that was only active for 5 games of the season (Michael Crabtree) was 2nd in receiver targets for the entire year with 33.


Let’s assume that both Crabtree and Boldin are healthy for an entire 2014-2015 season, what is the likelihood that another receiver emerges? Maybe if we ran more 3WR sets, someone would get “Kap’s” attention during the game or after in the film room. But what are the odds of that? I don’t blame Kaepernick in the least bit. If I had Boldin, Crabtree, and Vernon Davis to throw to, why would I even bother looking for someone else? How many reads do we expect this man to make on a single play? Then there is the formation issue… Not many teams use a full back all the time like we do. Then there is the beloved 2-3 TE sets… there is rarely space on this offense for a 3rd receiver to be on the field. So how will someone else emerge as a future threat? Do we have to wait until we lose one, or each?


PRACTICE! This is where I am hoping someone will emerge. With Crabtree and Boldin being veterans and having knowledge of the system, I’m hoping the coaches give them some resting time so the likes of Patton and whoever the 49ers draft will WOW some coaches and Kaepernick. Boldin’s return means that there won’t be a consistent #2 other than him in the weekly practices. We have heard the argument that mental reps are important to the development of young players, and we completely agree, they are. But when it all comes down to it, there is no other combination of positions that requires physical reps like that between QB and WR. Mainly because it’s all about timing and rhythm; besides that, practices are said to be significantly slower than game speed. The truth of the matter is, backups don’t get many reps with the starters unless it’s for a specific package. But fear not, there is something to look forward to!


 During the preseason, Patton looked very promising. Running reverses, blocking down field and knowing his blocking assignments early were impressive feats! He even had a screen go for 44 yards and a TD, but not one time did we see this play even attempted in the regular or post season. I think Patton will have another great preseason as well as earning the trust of the Kap during practices. If anyone has a chance at showing up this season other than out #1 and #2, it’s Q! Even if he doesn’t this offense will be a dangerous force this coming season and should be vastly improved over the last year. During the 2013 season, our offense at “full strength” was without our starting FB and had an injured Crabtree down the stretch. This offseason, Crabtree will come back better than his ’13 play and if Bruce isn’t ready, Tukuafu will be up to speed.


So fret not. The offense will perform but the youth may have to wait yet another year to shine.



  1. John_Aus

    March 10, 2014 at 11:23 am

    I rarely comment on articles on the internet, but this was absolute rubbish. Should Kap develop better chemistry with other receivers? Sure. Does having Boldin around actually hinder that? NO WAY!
    How does having Boldin around to teach and mentor younger players like he did with Patton hurt? Patton has raved about how much Q helped him, Ill take his word for it. The coaches were all blown away by Boldins professionalism and teaching ability they voted him team MVP.

    Look at the examples you use: Osgood BARLEY plays WR, he’s a special teamer. Kyle Williams as much as I wanted to like him, (went to school with the guy) he just wasn’t good. DOUG Baldwin plays for SEA, Jon Baldwin is a bust that was brand new to the system & was ill towards the end of the season. Manningham was injured the first half of the season, and came back caught passes in a couple games but appeared to still be injured, and was replaced in the lineup by a healthy Patton. QP was injured until like week 10, once he came back & replaced Manningham he was used as WR3, and made crucial catches vs AZ, and CAR. BY the way you know how he got injured? On the first catch of his pro career he broke his foot on a screen go. Crazy since we never ran it once right?!?
    You forgot Marlon Moore, but then again that just makes my point.

    Kap has raved about how Patton has already earned his trust in practice, & Im sure a lot of that has to do with Bolden’s mentorship.
    I’m not saying your a bad writer, but this article is ABSOLUTE GARBAGE, & leads me to believe you know little about football.

    • Michael Andrews

      March 10, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      I wasn’t trying to list every receiver on the roster. Was far from my point. I’m very aware of what team(s) Jon/Doug Baldwin play for. Errors happen, forgive me. That said, there were a ton of players that could of emerged. What I’m hearing from you are excuses. When the likes of Brady, Manning, Rogers or, Brees lose a receiver, it’s the next man up. Those QBs and teams make names at the position. Even the Cowboys keep it moving in that aspect. If you’re healthy enough to play, you’re healthy enough to produce. Everyone had catches. But that’s not the point. We need consistency at the position. To my original point, the team appreciates and benefits from Boldin’s presence, BUT the most important part of chemistry is created in practice. And with Boldin present, others behind him can’t get those reps. Anyone who disagrees with that doesn’t know the relationship between QB and WR. Williams and Kaepernick were best friends off the field but it didn’t help. It’s about ON FIELD activities, not mental ones. But thanks for expressing your opinion and reading my garbage.

  2. John_Aus

    March 10, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Forgive me, and my crazy excuses. Your right. The fact that patton had a broken foot and Manningham had a torn ACL, and neither were on the active roster half the year… EXCUSE! C’mon your healthy enough play? then healthy enough to produce, right!?

    Brady eh? Who did to Brady elevate this year (Kenbrell Tomkins haha)? With his slew of junk at WR he proceeded to have a worse year than Kap. Kap had better QBR, quarterback rating, and YPA, than Brady, but lets not let facts get in the way here. (YES, kap still has a LOT of improvement left) You say we need consistency, & then bash the Boldin signing?! What?!

    Williams, Moore, Baldwin… Ever think its about on field talent? Not chemistry? Boldin was brand new last year, and Kap developed a chemistry with him awfully fast. 208 yards in wk 1… If only those practice reps went elsewhere!

    You seem intelligent enough, but instead of actually processing anything I said, you just tried to create some illusion I don’t know about the QB-receiver relationship. (knowing the truth, would make you seem even more foolish) Again, I genuinely don’t mean to imply your a bad writer, just that THIS particular piece, weather generated for clicks or if you actually believe it, is just wrong.

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