Posted: 4:39 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, 2013
By Steve Busichio
But what does it all mean for the Niners?
Right off the bat, it's a jaw-dropping value for San Francisco. They get an established, talented, veteran wide receiver for an utterly disposable sixth round pick. Better yet, they have options to work with. They can either have Boldin play on a one-year rental at $6 million (which is reportedly what they look to move forward with, per Pro Football Talk), or they can negotiate a two- or three-year deal to knock that cap number down.
For more on the Boldin trade's cap implications, check out David Fucillo's piece here.
Some (myself included) will point out that Boldin and Crabtree have a similar frame and skill set. They both stand around 6'1, 220 pounds and lack top end speed, but have great hands and move the chains.
With that said, many (myself included) would have expected the 49ers to pursue a wide receiver with a different set of skills, a deep threat that could stretch the field. Maybe one of the many wide receivers in the draft, or perhaps they would take a flyer on the likes Danny Amendola in free agency? And while that may still happen, the Boldin trade certainly digs at the odds of it.
So why (outside of the low price tag aspect of it) would the 49ers get another possession receiver to start with Crabtree?
Regardless of the skill set, the 49ers finished 2012 with a need at the position. Randy Moss is gone. Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham are rehabbing season-ending injuries so their roles, as well as their effectiveness, in 2013 leave some question marks. Last year's first round pick, A.J. Jenkins, barely saw the field last year and recorded zero receptions.
On the field, Boldin immediately establishes himself as the number two wide receiver on the team, alongside Michael Crabtree.This gives the 49ers a formidable, very physical 1-2 punch at wideout.
Additionally, Quarterback Colin Kaepernick's style of play clearly jibes with Crabtree. His ascension to starting quarterback coincided with Crabtree's jump in production and performance. So if it that combination worked out so well, why not add the same thing with Boldin on the other side? Boldin is also considerably bulkier than Crabtree which may allow him to gain better separation as a red zone target - an offensive area the 49ers attempt to improve annually.
As a disciple of Bo Schembechler, Jim Harbaugh is keen on the age-old fundamentals of football - running, hitting, blocking, effort, physical prowess, etc. As we've all seen, he likes to run the ball and utilize a variety of jumbo packages. In Anquan Boldin, Harbaugh gains a fundamentally sound wide receiver that possesses many of the aforementioned qualities. He's a great blocker and plays about as physical as anyone. Those attributes mesh very well with the 49ers style of play and philosophy, even more so when you consider the benefit of having a big downfield blocker for Kaepernick, Gore, Hunter, and James.
Jim Harbaugh's close ties to his brother also make for a favorable situation. A player of Boldin's caliber really doesn't require a sales pitch or a vote of confidence, especially coming off spectacular playoff and Super Bowl performances. Nevertheless, Jim gets an intimate, firsthand account of what kind of player Boldin is both on-and-off the field from the coach he most admires.
With Randy Moss leaving town, the 49ers lost a key veteran presence in the receiving corps, as well as the locker room. Boldin will now step right into that role and additionally provide more upside on the field. Crabtree, Jenkins, and the rest of the wide receivers who remain on the roster will gain valuable knowledge from one of the league's better wide receivers over the past decade.
So there you have it. The 49ers gain a physical, perennial pro bowler and locker room leader who jumps right into the starting wide receiver spot. The interesting thing now is to monitor how this impacts the rest of their offseason.
Are the Niners done addressing the wide receiver position?
Does this spell the end for Mario Manningham? Did this impact the team's decision to let Delanie Walker walk?
How much stock are Harbaugh and Baalke putting into Jenkins in year two?
Time will tell, pretty quickly.