WR Anquan Boldin, Free agent
HT: 6-1, WT: 216, Born: 10-3-1980, College: Florida State, Drafted: Round 2
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Average draft position
Current as of August 25th. [Full ADP list]Overall: K Robinson (127), H Nicks (128), Anquan Boldin (129), J Hill (130),
Position: C Shorts (124-WR46), H Nicks (128-WR47), Anquan Boldin (129 - WR48), D Amendola (132-WR49), J Gordon (139-WR50)
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PPR Average draft position
Current as of August 25th. [Full PPR ADP list]Overall: D Williams (119), Anquan Boldin (120), A Williams (121), C Shorts (122)
Position: T Austin (114-WR44), D Hopkins (116-WR45), Anquan Boldin (120 - WR46), C Shorts (122-WR47), H Nicks (126-WR48)
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Anquan Boldin is a gritty, experienced receiver with a long history of production in the NFL, but hardly anybody expected him to put together the kind of season he had in 2013. In his first year with the 49ers, thrust into the WR1 role when Michael Crabtree missed most of the season with an Achilles injury, Boldin looked surprisingly spry as he feinted, cut, and caught his way to a top-15 fantasy season. Crabtree returns healthy this season, however, and is expected to resume his role as the team's primary receiver. Boldin won't get nearly as many looks as he did in 2013, and is likely to put up numbers more closely resembling those from his days in Baltimore than last season's in San Francisco. Consider Boldin a fantasy WR4 who, despite a one-year reprieve, is on the downside of his career.
2013 Game Summaries
Week 1 - It would be difficult to envision a better start to Anquan Boldin’s career as a 49er. His superhuman performance from last year’s playoffs looks to have rolled over in to this season, as Boldin decimated the Green Bay secondary. When the defense ran zone coverage, Boldin was able to find the soft spot in the secondary. When the defense ran tight man-to-man coverage, Boldin used his power to dictate body position, bullying the corner and shrugging off tackles after the catch. If the ball was thrown high and contested, Boldin had the power and viciousness to snatch the ball out of the air, shrugging off the defender. What the defense was doing seemed almost insignificant to Boldin. Many times Kaepernick scrambled out of the pocket, and Boldin had the awareness to break off his man and scramble with the quarterback, finding space to allow for a big play. When Kaepernick led Boldin too far on a crossing route, Boldin stretched his arm out and with one hand pulled the ball against his body. Kaepernick threw the ball too high in the end zone, yet Boldin leapt high enough to pull the pass down, an incompletion only because the defender was able to block Boldin’s reentry inbounds. Even on a quick pass to Boldin in the flat, Boldin took the ball upfield and would not go to ground without three men on top of him. And it wasn’t only power that allowed Boldin to dominate the defense, but a level of craftiness and technique: executing double moves on defenders off the line to get in to space, recognizing coverage and adjusting, scramble awareness, even excellent downfield run blocking. When Kaepernick threw a dart to Boldin in the red zone, the corner launched himself against Boldin, yet Boldin barely moved as he caught the ball and sprinted in to the end zone. What Anquan Boldin was able to accomplish in his first game with Colin Kaepernick not only demonstrated that Boldin has a lot to offer an offense at this point in his career, but that the connection between the two only has more room to grow as each player learns what the other does best and the chemistry and mind meld continues to develop.
Week 2 - After such a stellar opening game with his new team, Boldin’s poor game was all the more telling. Lined up against Richard Sherman, Boldin was unable to use his power and strength to gain position or separation on the equally strong Sherman. In addition, Seattle often rolled coverage towards Boldin, leaving the wide receiver double teamed. The few times Boldin was able to beat the tight press coverage, a safety was often there to bracket Boldin, not allowing him to get open no matter what else occurred. The secondary stayed disciplined on scramble drills, so when Kaepernick left the pocket they remained with Boldin, preferring to let the quarterback run than allow Boldin to gain separation. Without an effective run game or second receiver to alleviate this tight pressure, Boldin was unable to escape the focused coverage, and when Kaepernick forced the ball to him, such as the interception in 4th quarter, the defense was able to use their body position and double coverage to break up or make a play. His only completion came in the 4th quarter on a quick slant, catching the hard throw before being taken down immediately.
Week 3 - Without a reliable second option, the coverage was rolled towards Boldin for most of the game. Even when the wide receiver was able to beat his man-to-man coverage, a second defender was there to defend the pass. His first catch came on a play-action rollout. Boldin ran in the flat and caught a low pass from Kaepernick, then broke the initial tackle to gain 14 yards. Boldin’s longest catch of the game came on a slant. The safety cut under to pick the ball off and Kaepernick threaded the tight window, hitting Boldin in stride and the receiver sprinted through wide open space. With only a safety between Boldin and the end zone, the receiver ran directly in to the defender, attempting to run over instead of around the obstacle. Boldin was tackled immediately and what could have been a longer gain instead went for 24 yards. In fact, the slant route was one of the few plays that the 49ers had some success, as Boldin’s power and frame allowed him to gain position on the tight coverage. But throughout the game Boldin was double covered, and even with his power and skill, Boldin was unable to gain the necessary separation.
Week 4 - Engaging in the most entertaining of battles, Anquan Boldin fought throughout with the nebulous idea of pass interference. Pushing off, hand-fighting, dragging the corner to the ground, Boldin played a physical game against a defense that wanted to play equally physical. At times, Boldin was called for offensive pass interference. At other times, the defense was called for pass interference. But when Boldin cut on an out route, caught the ball on the sideline and fully absorbed Cortland Finnegan’s blow to the legs while keeping a tightrope in bounds as he dove for the touchdown, it was clear that Boldin would be the victor. Often the camera cut towards Boldin having just created a bit of space for himself on the sideline as the ball arrived at his chest, two feet in bounds as Boldin fell backwards for a catch. His ability to gain body position on slants continued to be a difficulty for the defender, as swatting around Boldin’s back was ineffective to jarring passes loose. On Boldin’s long catch of the game, he made an excellent double move to break upfield and Kaepernick hit him in stride for a 42-yard gain, even as Finnegan committed defensive holding.
Week 5 - Boldin's first reception went for 12 yards on first and 10 down the sideline. He worked back to the football as Johnathan Joseph was on his shoulder. A few plays later, Kaepernick tried to find Boldin down the sideline, but the receiver couldn't make a difficult reception. Boldin caught a bubble screen soon after for a first down at the goal line. Kaepernick tried to find Boldin on a screen again on third and 13, but the pass was underthrown as J.J. Watt pressured the quarterback. Kaepernick couldn't connect with Boldin on a slant route from the slot, but the cornerback was punished for a hold that wasn't evident on the replay.
Week 6 - Though usually excellent at using body position to create a barrier between the defender and the ball, Boldin struggled against the physical Patrick Peterson. The corner lined up against Boldin throughout, and even when Kaepernick was able to deliver the ball on Boldin’s hands, Peterson was able to slip around Boldin’s side to tear the ball out. Often Boldin found himself frustrated with the tight coverage. The insistent hand fighting didn’t allow him to simply pluck the ball from the air. With such an aggressive secondary gameplan in regards to Boldin, the few successes the wide receiver had came when he was able to gain separation with either a sharp route or soft coverage. For example, on a comeback route Boldin was able to beat his man back to the ball, while a sharply ran inside-out route allowed Boldin to catch the ball in front of softer coverage. But the physical dominance that Boldin had often displayed again came up lacking, as Arizona was consistently able to tear the ball away while making Boldin’s efforts to gain position a frustrating struggle.
Week 7 - The only wide receiver to record a catch, Boldin continued to keep the woeful San Francisco receiving corps somewhat respectable. Though his most impressive catch was the one handed pull down near the sideline that baffled the announcers, the catch that showed the most precision between Boldin and Kaepernick occurred in the 2nd quarter. Using a hand to try to separate from the corner, Boldin was tightly covered when Kaepernick put a ball just ahead of the receiver. Diving forward, Boldin was able to catch the long throw in the face of almost perfect coverage. That rapport between Boldin and Kaepernick continued to grow as the two connected on different types of passes, including a jump ball to the sideline that allowed Boldin to elevate above the corner and snatch out of the air. His ability to use power and technique to gain separation against focused coverage lifted the 49ers’ passing game at key moments, and the tight pressure from the secondary may soften if San Francisco can field another legitimate wide receiver.
Week 8 - Facing one-on-one coverage for much of the game, Boldin could have had a performance reminiscent of Green Bay had San Francisco needed to throw the ball. Instead Boldin served as an excellent run blocker and physical menace against the slighter Jacksonville coverage. At times, Boldin was able to separate so easily from coverage it appeared that no one had attempted to cover him at all. On one slant, Kaepernick delivered a ball to Boldin’s gut without a defender being in the vicinity. On a crossing route, Boldin was able to run through zone coverage with ease and catch a ball in wide open space. Jacksonville’s only recourse was pulling Boldin down immediately, tackling the receiver while the ball was in the air and hoping the referee was distracted. Instead, Boldin was able to draw a pass interference penalty to move the drive along. Perhaps had the score not been so lopsided so soon Boldin could have made a bigger impact, but the passing game was unnecessary with a running game doing so much good work.
Week 10 - As the season wears, Boldin is looking less effective as a top option in the passing game. Early on, the rolled coverage forced him in to double coverage that he was unable to beat. Now Boldin is struggling with one-on-one coverage, not fast enough to beat the man downfield while Kaepernick is unwilling to throw jump balls to tight coverage. Boldin’s only catches against Carolina came on very short routes where the receiver ran beneath a soft zone and stopped, allowing an easy throw for Kaepernick but an easy tackle and stop for a fast pursuing defense. On a deep post, Kaepernick underthrew Boldin by such a wide margin the corner seemed surprised as the ball struck the defender’s hands. Without a quarterback able and willing to make tight coverage throws, Boldin’s ability to outmuscle the corner was largely wasted.
Week 11 - The most productive of the San Francisco wide receivers this season, Boldin was able to repeatedly gain separation against his overmatched corner. Boldin’s quick cuts and timing on out routes allowed Kaepernick to deliver balls on time and to a location where only Boldin could make the catch. His chemistry with Kaepernick on back shoulder fades was also exemplary, as the wide receiver turned to catch just as the ball arrived repeatedly throughout the game. On his touchdown catch, Boldin was able to run with the tight coverage then separate at the last moment, claiming position over the corner as he leapt in to the air and Kaepernick’s pass arrived on his back shoulder. Boldin held on to the ball under duress and backpedaled in to the end zone. Even with Boldin’s mastery of the back shoulder fade and out route, he was limited as a number one receiver. His strength and tenacity allowed him to gain separation on short throws, but when San Francisco needed some type of downfield threat, Boldin was much too lumbering to enact any type of separation. Boldin has never been the fastest, instead his skills fit the mold of great possession receiver. Unfortunately, San Francisco’s injuries forced Boldin in to a miscast role as a number one receiver, and Boldin was unable to threaten the coverage in enough ways to open the passing game.
Week 12 - The wide gap between Anqaun Boldin’s strengths and weakness can sometimes be staggering. At no point in his career did Boldin have the speed or quickness to separate from coverage, so for Kaepernick to wait until Boldin got open and away from his defender would have been rather futile. However, Boldin’s power and body positioning have always been superb. When Boldin was tightly covered, he wasn’t really covered. The only way for those strengths to be utilized was for the quarterback to have complete confidence that if he threw to tight one-on-one coverage, Boldin would win the battle. During the Washington game, Kaepernick made those confident throws and Boldin won those battles. On routes down the sideline and in the seam, Boldin was able to gain the body position that allowed Kaepernick to throw to the open side of the receiver. When Kaepernick made these back shoulder throws, Boldin leaped high and tore the ball from the air as the corner watched helplessly. On some of those jump balls, Boldin looked to be twice the corner’s size as the receiver reached the highest point and with pure power grabbed the ball and held on. On one play, Boldin grabbed the back shoulder pass and turned, only for the safety to deliver a walloping hit. No matter, Boldin absorbed the blow and continued for a 32-yard gain. After Boldin caught a 24-yard pass down the sideline, Kaepernick went right back to the receiver. Running a corner post route to the end zone, Boldin gained the body position that allowed Kaepernick to throw to the back shoulder. Boldin caught the pass and twisted in to the end zone for a touchdown. On his second touchdown catch, Kaepernick scrambled to the right and the defense pursued. With the defense moving right, Boldin cut back across the back of the end zone and Kaepernick threw a hard, accurate pass.
Week 13 - Proving to be an absolute terror to deal with, Boldin constantly beat his man coverage with power and body position. Continuing a trend from the previous week, Kaepernick looked more confident throwing to Boldin in tight coverage. This allowed Boldin to use his body position to box out the corner and catch the ball on the back shoulder. After watching Boldin repeatedly overpower the corner, St. Louis chose the tactic of playing soft coverage against Boldin. This resulted in quick throws by Kaepernick that allowed the receiver to run in space, or more likely, run as hard as he could at an incoming corner. On one play, Boldin caught the short pass in space and quickly turned up field, taking on the corner with a lowered shoulder as he stretched for the first down. The safety came over the top and hit Boldin in the head with an elbow, resulting in a personal foul penalty. Boldin was able to force numerous penalties as St. Louis couldn’t figure out whether to play soft coverage and play the quick completion or play tight coverage and risk throws over the top. On two separate occasions Kaepernick lofted a ball to Boldin in one-one-one coverage, forcing the corner to attempt to drag Boldin to the ground. Both penalties resulted in a first down. Boldin had two separate catches on the 49ers’ first touchdown drive that were instrumental in moving the ball towards the end zone. On the first, Kaepernick waited for Boldin to make a break on a deep slant against the zone coverage. When the break came, Boldin was wide open and Kaepernick hit the receiver with accuracy, allowing Boldin to make a quick spin up field for a 21-yard gain. With the 49ers in the red zone, Kaepernick hit Boldin in stride on the underneath slant and again Boldin ran through space for a 16-yard gain to put San Francisco on the 3-yard line.
Week 14 - The matchup between Boldin and the Seattle secondary was a thing of beauty, as the struggle between the two entities produced some of the most physical ball-fighting one would see all year. On Boldin’s first catch, the receiver caught the ball with space short and the corner broke fast, laying a heavy hit on the receiver. Boldin held on. In the second quarter, Boldin was able to get a free release on a bail route and catch the ball in open space for a 20-yard gain. Fighting off press coverage on almost every play, Boldin was forced in to making catches in tight space. When Boldin was covered one-on-one with Richard Sherman down the right side, Boldin twisted away from the coverage as Sherman pulled Boldin’s jersey. But no matter, Kaepernick threw the ball and Boldin was powerful enough to resist the pull and one-hand the ball for a 27-yard gain. With the chemistry between Boldin and Kaepernick at an all-time high, Boldin was often Kaepernick’s first option when scrambling about. On one play in particular, Boldin was able to twist away from the coverage and his route to cut across the deep middle. Kaepernick found him, throwing hard for an 18-yard gain. Repeatedly Boldin was able to beat his man and the press coverage, and Kaepernick threw to the powerful receiver often. Boldin’s tenacity also lead to an offensive pass interference penalty, but the physical play worked towards Boldin’s strengths throughout as he proved a great compliment to the still developing Crabtree.
Week 15 - Not a particularly good game for Boldin, as the receiver dropped a number of passes. On two separate plays, Boldin caught the pass only for a defender to lay a heavy blow that shot the ball right out. When Kaepernick threw the ball up to Boldin on a jump play on the sideline, Boldin got both hands on the ball only to bobble the pass and drop it in to the defender’s hands. The interception was called back because of an offsides penalty. And though the often sure-handed Boldin had his struggles against the Tampa Bay defense, he was able to make a few great plays, including one short pass on 3rd and long. Without any options downfield, Kaepernick dumped the ball off to Boldin underneath. The receiver shed his first tackle and broke across the field, following some excellent downfield blocking to convert a 3rd and 15 with a 21-yard catch and run. On another pass, Boldin ran an inside slant and Kaepernick threw the pass too far behind. No matter, as Boldin used one hand to reach back and snatch the ball and the other to fight off the battling corner. Even on an off day, Boldin had stretches of pure athletic wonder.
Week 16 - Working more on short routes than Crabtree, Boldin was often able to create separation with quick cuts and using his large frame to gain body position. Though he doesn’t have the same elusiveness as Crabtree to turn short catches in to very long gains, Boldin does have the pure physical strength to catch balls when under heavy duress and the aggressive nature to leap up and snatch balls from the air. When Atlanta sent an all out blitz, Kaepernick lofted a ball up to Boldin. The receiver bullied his corner and grabbed the ball at the highest point of attack for a 22-yard gain. When in the red zone, Boldin caught a quick wide receiver screen and the blocking set up perfectly in front of him. All Boldin had to do was lower his shoulders and power through the weak arm tackles on his way to a 10-yard touchdown. Throughout the game Boldin used this same bully mentality to fight off the corner and make strong catches on slants and curls. Boldin also set a pick in the secondary that allowed Crabtree to break a long gain on a slant, as well as drawing a phantom pass interference call that set up a San Francisco field goal.
Week 17 - Fed early and often in the first quarter, Boldin was a terror for the Arizona secondary to deal with. San Francisco repeatedly threw quick screens to Boldin, allowing the receiver to use his strength to fight off the smaller corner. This often resulted in positive gains, as the corner couldn’t get past the powerful stiff arm Boldin wielded. On slants, Boldin was able to utilize his large frame to keep his body between the corner and the ball. Boldin was even tossed the ball on an end-around, and though the big receiver lumbered, he was able to make the corner and duck out of bounds for an 11-yard gain. Whether from some kind of inspired fear or illusion, there was a play where Boldin stopped, waited for the pass as the corner continued down the field, covering nothing. Boldin also found himself open on a few plays thanks to the corner inexplicably falling to the ground without contact. Boldin’s long play of 63-yads came on a medium out route, as the receiver caught a well-placed ball to the outside. The corner draped himself across Boldin’s back, but the receiver shed the tackle easily. Two downfield blocks (of questionable legality) allowed Boldin to break down the sideline and cut across the middle to wide open space, and Boldin was tackled right before the end zone to set up a touchdown. Boldin’s own touchdown came on a play from the 4-yard line, as the receiver broke down the right sideline and Kaepernick lofted the ball to where Boldin would be able to high point the pass. Boldin twisted around, snatched the ball from the air as the corner attacked the receiver’s body. And though Boldin was wildly successful when fed the ball, he quickly disappeared when Kaepernick wasn’t making a point of forcing the ball his way. Still unable to get wide open space (barring a defender running away or falling), Boldin relied on confident throws to contested space. When those were few and far between in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, Boldin was unable to make an impact. But when San Francisco desperately need a play deep in the 4th quarter, Boldin made a vital catch, grabbing a perfect pass on an out route 18-yards downfield. The drive ended with a game winning field goal.
Week 18 - While it was a relatively quiet game for Boldin (most of the action going towards Michael Crabtree), he did do a good job creating some space against some tight coverage and making some nice catches. Boldin’s nicest catch was probably the 12-yard grab late in the first quarter. On the play, he ran a simple short “out” route, keeping cornerback Micah Hyde away from the ball with a nice cut to create some separation. Hyde almost got revenge in the fourth quarter when he undercut Boldin’s route and nearly came down with an interception, but dropped the ball. The two battled frequently during the day, with Boldin getting the upper hand a few times, including on two overthrows from his quarterback.
Week 19 - In a game where Crabtree struggled and Davis was consistently double-covered, Boldin was a force that elevated the entire passing offense. When Carolina attempted to jam Boldin at the line of scrimmage, the receiver was able to outmuscle and toss his corner aside, creating separation for a quick pass from Kaepernick. When Carolina stepped back, gave Boldin some space, the receiver was able to run open slants that Kaepernick hit consistently. When Carolina decided to just pull Boldin down in the end zone, not bothering to give him a chance to fight for the ball, Boldin was able to pick up a pass interference call that set up a touchdown. With such power and body control, Boldin was a terror for the Carolina defense to cover. On his long catch of the game, the corner watched Kaepernick in the backfield instead of playing Boldin tight. When Kaepernick pumped the corner bit, leaving Boldin wide open down the sideline. Kaepernick hit Boldin in stride for a 45-yard gain. On the drive that culminated in a go-ahead touchdown for the 49ers, Boldin made three separate catches to keep San Francisco moving forward. Each route was well-run, well-timed, as if Kaepernick’s chemistry with Boldin was far beyond the rest of his options. Back shoulder throws arrived right after Boldin made his break, in just the right spot. Slants that hit Boldin in stride as the receiver caught, ran, punished the secondary that met him. Even on his 45-yard catch, Boldin dragged a corner before the end zone. The consistency of Boldin powered the 49ers’ offense, always fighting for the ball, always snatching away any 50-50 opportunities.
Week 20 - Boldin had an uncharacteristic pair of drops to open the game, but he came up with the best catch of the game by a 49ers wide receiver when he got his mitts on a high ball Kaepernick threw on the move to Boldin in the end zone. Boldin also made a tough third-down catch, but didn't really have any big one-on-one wins against the stifling Seahawks pass defense.