As I traveled for much of the day to ESPN headquarters on Monday, the San Francisco 49ers, as expected, finalized a deal to retain receiver Anquan Boldin. Boldin, 33, signed a two-year deal worth $12 million with $9 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder.
The following are some thoughts on the deal.
Good deal for team: There were rumblings that Boldin would sign for three years. Two years is better for the team with his age. Receivers can fall off the cliff rather quickly. So the 49ers are protected. Boldin should still be effective for the life of this new deal. Re-signing Boldin was never really a question. He is too good of a fit with the offense, coaching staff, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and locker room. The trade of a sixth-round draft pick to Baltimore last year was a big win for San Francisco. Extending Boldin continues the victory.
Nice gift to Jim Harbaugh: There have been so many reports of acrimony between Harbaugh and the front office. This deal ought to make Harbaugh happy. He gushes about Boldin at every chance. Harbaugh knows the impact Boldin has on Kaepernick, and he knows that he is a third-down conversion machine. Plus, the feeling is mutual. Boldin told reports Monday that he “laughed” at a local report that suggested Harbaugh is losing the locker room.
Still need a young receiver: We all know how well Boldin and Michael Crabtree played together when Crabtree returned from an Achilles injury in December. That combination should continue to work well in 2014. That doesn’t mean the 49ers won’t add to the position. I fully expect San Francisco to draft a receiver in the early rounds to help now and in the future.
– Bill Williamson, ESPN.com
Doug Wilson put me on hold Tuesday while he answered another line. After all, it was only 24 hours before the NHL trade deadline.
Wheeling and dealing?
“Nah, I was ordering lunch,” said the Sharks general manager.
Whether it was the Winnipeg Jets or Panera on the other line, the reality is that Wilson wasn’t feeling compelled to make a blockbuster trade before Wednesday’s deadline to help his team down the stretch. Unlike last year, when the struggling Sharks used the trade deadline to reset the team, shipping out Ryane Clowe and Douglas Murray and acquiringRaffi Torres, this team is in a better place. And the Sharks’ fresh faces are simply their own players coming back from injury.
Finally healthy and with the Sochi Olympics behind them, the Sharks are in position to put together their best hockey through the final five weeks of the season and into the playoffs.
The Sharks returned home to the SAP Center on Tuesday night for the first time since Feb. 7. Since then, key players have returned, not only from Russia but also from injury rehab.
“This is the first time we’ve had all the guys together,” Wilson said.
Well, not all the guys. Rookie sensation Tomas Hertl suffered a serious knee injury in December and has not returned, though he did skate for the first time last week.
But Wilson said he doesn’t feel the need to go out and acquire a short-term replacement. (Wilson downplayed a Tuesday trade rumor linking the Sharks to the Winnipeg Jets and to the possible reacquisition of Devin Setoguchi.) The Sharks have been pleased by the development of 21-year-old rookie Matt Nieto, who took Hertl’s spot on the roster.
Back from injury is the Sharks’ best young player, Logan Couture, who missed a chunk of the season with a hand injury.
Also back is Torres, who tore his ACL in an exhibition game in September and has been getting his first action of the season.
“Torres is a great deadline acquisition,” said Wilson. “He changes the dynamics of the team.”
Despite all the injuries, the Sharks played well during the first four months. They are in a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference – a tribute to Todd McLellan and his coaching staff.
“They were very patient, integrating the young players, keeping us in the race,” Wilson said. “I’m very proud of the job they did.”
Even the Olympic interruption didn’t prove to be the disruption it could have been. Wilson concedes he would have been worried if a bunch of his key players had gone to Sochi and come back exhausted. Instead, three key players who were snubbed by the Canadian team – Couture, Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle - were able to use the Olympic break to rest and get refreshed for the stretch run.
–Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle
Jim Harbaugh is just so ridiculously smart — what he says, what he doesn’t say, what he implies, and how he sets himself up for all options and angles.
Whether it’s dealing with a play, a game, a writer, an owner or a fan base, it’s undeniable, the guy is unbelievably good.
It’s part of why he’s a great coach for the 49ers or for anybody. It’s 100 percent of why he’s the most fascinating sports figure in the Bay Area, and maybe the galaxy.
Harbaugh’s genius was evident everywhere in his conversation with SI.com‘s Michael Rosenberg on Monday, a perfect spot after the storm and confusion of the last few weeks around 49ersland.
In the story, Harbaugh denied that he wanted out, denied that he’s demanding the top salary in the NFL, denied that he was jockeying for a contract extension, and denied that he and general manager Trent Baalke are in an intractable clash.
Harbaugh told Rosenberg that he has “great respect for (Baalke),” that they have a relationship like brothers, and Harbaugh said that he absolutely will coach the 49ers for the next two years — the final two of his original contract.
That’s a whole lot to cover in one phone conversation, isn’t it?
There’s a lot he didn’t say, too — he didn’t say he wouldn’t accept the top salary in the NFL, didn’t actually utter Baalke’s name, that I could tell (at least it’s not in the article), and didn’t say he cares whether there’s tension with Baalke, anyway.
The 49ers reality: Harbaugh and Baalke have a job to do in 2014, and they’re going to be professional about it, of course they will.
Because they both — because everybody on the 49ers — want to win a Super Bowl.
And: Brothers fight, too, sometimes, don’t they?
This interview did clear some things up, but it doesn’t end the tension or the storyline, no chance, and I don’t think Harbaugh wanted to end it.
He just wanted to reset things, on his terms, for the coming season, which is going to be an epic one.
Before you take everything Harbaugh said as the literal pure truth, remember, as others have pointed out, that two years ago Harbaugh denied that the 49ers were pursuing Peyton Manning — right after the 49ers definitely pursued Manning.
That’s just the way Harbaugh plays things, with his own versions of reality. He obviously felt the need to put out another Harbaugh-version after various recent reports that made things look a little shaky at 4949 Centennial.
–Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury News