They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Well, John Harbaugh called his brother Jim and in conversation asked his younger brother if he had any interest in Anquan Boldin. The 49ers coach surely was interested and went to Trent Baalke with the idea. Thirty minutes later, Baalke and Ozzie Newsome were putting together a deal that would send Boldin to the team that he helped defeat in the Super Bowl.
Obviously this pickup will improve the 49ers receiving corps on the field but it also means a lot to the number one receiver on the 49ers…Michael Crabtree. I have said before that Crabtree and Boldin are very similar players. Both of these receivers are tough guys that have a very solid frame. Both are very good blockers, and Crabtree is a very underrated.
The thing that really stands out about both of these players is how they are able to generate yards after the catch and work out of the slot. Boldin will fit right into the veteran locker room and actually be a very good influence.
“I’ve heard a lot of great things about him from my brother,” Jim Harbaugh said. “Great worker, great guy in the locker room, solid guy, Christian guy. I’ve heard a lot of good things.”
Crabtree could not have landed in a better situation going into his contract year. The 49ers’ offense is still a running offense, but Crabtree gets his share of targets. He is benefiting from having such a good rapport with Colin Kaepernick.
Last year Randy Moss was a good influence on Crabtree. The addition of Boldin will be of huge benefit to Crabtree. Boldin can help Crabtree learn some of the veteran moves that he has learned over the years.
Outside of Moss, Crabtree has not really had a veteran example to help him progress as a player. Boldin is a very strong football player mentally. He is very adept at converting routes and being on the same page as his quarterback. These are both qualities that Crabtree will need to further develop as he continues to evolve into one of the better young receivers in the NFL.
Having Boldin in the film room will be tremendous because they have the same skill set. Boldin has been a very durable player. He even played with a fractured jawbone a few years ago.
“He’s been consistently good,” Harbaugh said. “You look at it, yards per catch, those kinds of things. He’s been consistently good. Right at 13 (yards per reception) each year. He plays all 16 games year after year. He plays really good in the big games. That shows up. He’s one of the great competitors in the NFL, so we’re thrilled to have him and can’t wait to meet him.”
Boldin’s performance in the playoffs and Super Bowl showed that he can still be a game changer. Having him on the field along with Crabtree will help because teams will not be able to key on just Crabtree. Boldin is still able to win most one-on-one matchups.
Expect to see more three receiver sets for the 49ers this year because of the departure of tight end Delanie Walker. They will still be able to run out of that formation because of Boldin is a physical player that blocks almost as well as a lot of tight ends.
The 49ers made a surprise splash with their pickup of Anquan Boldin, and it will help the team in many ways.