When the San Francisco 49ers traded for veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin earlier this offseason, it’s hard to imagine they were planning for a potential catastrophic injury. The funny thing about the NFL is that you can’t always plan for everything, and now the addition of Boldin looks even savvier by the club’s front office.
Given the Achilles tendon injury to last year’s top wideout Michael Crabtree, the Niners will likely be relying on Boldin much more than they had previously anticipated. Quarterback Colin Kaerpernick is going to need a receiver that he can trust to make the tough catches in traffic, and you would be hard-pressed to find anyone more capable of that than Boldin.
The former member of the Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens has always been one of my personal favorites in the league due to his reckless abandon at the receiver position. That type of description is usually more befitting of a defensive player or possibly a running back, but for a receiver to garner that label is impressive. Boldin puts his body on the line whenever necessary to make big grabs to move the chains for his team. There’s no doubt the Niners will need that type of presence to get back to the Super Bowl in February.
As far as competition goes at the receiver spot, the team did draft A.J. Jenkins in the first round a year ago, but he has yet to even warrant an offensive snap with the team. Mario Manningham is coming off of reconstructive knee surgery so his ability to still be an impact player remains in doubt as well. The team drafted a potential steal in Quinton Patton in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Louisiana Tech, but expecting a rookie to be a consistent target after playing at a smaller school is quite a tall order.
Essentially, Boldin may be in line to see a workload comparable to his peak seasons with the Cardinals back in the mid-2000s. Even at 32 years of age, he hasn’t shown any signs of deteriorating skills at this point in his career. Training camp should allow him to get fully acclimated to the San Francisco offense and gain a rapport and rhythm with Kaepernick. Given the lack of proven receiving talent on the depth chart, it really may be up to Boldin to carry the entire unit for the Niners in 2013.