Anquan Boldin is one of the San Francisco 49ers' most important players this season. When the team traded for him, most of us were happy with the trade, but quickly went back to talking about Michael Crabtree and the bright future ahead of him. Boldin would be the No. 2 guy and hopefully have a productive season this late in his career.
Now he's the No. 1 guy, and the only proven receiver without injury concerns on the roster. Well, that's a little bit untrue, given that he's missed games here and there throughout his career.
But Boldin is the best option the 49ers have at wide receiver. Vernon Davis is the 49ers biggest deep threat, but he can expect to spend some time in blocking, and just as much time getting double-teamed. Davis will be a critical piece of the puzzle, but Boldin could be arguably just as important in a safety-valve sort of way.
Fortunately, Boldin seems to be working out thus far. Peter King talked about the Boldin storyline in his Monday Morning Quarterback column, and the early reports out of training camp have a definite tone: Boldin looks good.
More than that, Boldin is easily Colin Kaepernick's favorite target, and his most consistent. Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area said that Boldin is Kaepernick's "go-to guy." That's important, especially given that Boldin will likely get more reps in this camp than he has in a very long time.
There are a couple reasons for this. Boldin is new to the team, of course, but his rapport with Kaepernick is now the most important aspect of the offense right now. His role shifted dramatically when Crabtree got injured. He was always going to come in and be a mentor to the younger guys, and he was always going to be an effective receiving option.
Now he is the receiving option, and there hasn't been a single credible report suggesting he looks anything less than that option thus far in training camp. He's running sharp routes, he's winning his one-on-one battles, he's catching everything thrown his way and he's staying healthy.
Check, check, check and check. I was excited when Boldin was brought in, now I'm simply optimistic. He had his ups and downs during the 2012 regular season, but he blew up in the playoffs. The 49ers do not need a throw-back Anquan Boldin season, but we can hope for one more strong season.