Seattle’s Ready for the 49ers’ Deception Game

The Seahawks will have to keep their heads on a swivel if they want to find Anquan Boldin Sunday, and that's fine with them; plus more of what I'm looking forward to in Week 2

Anquan Boldin scored his only touchdown
Anquan Boldin scored his only touchdown against the Packers from the left receiver spot, but that wasn’t the only position he played. (Robert Beck/SI)

In one of my early years covering the NFL, I remember Giants GM George Young telling me why free agency wouldn’t work in pro football. Chemistry in football is different than, say, in baseball. A guard or wide receiver changing teams would take a couple years to become familiar enough with an offense to play at his peak—as opposed to a second baseman or a right fielder, who could be plugged in and play at his normal level on day one.

Anquan Boldin didn’t arrive in San Francisco as a free agent, but it’s basically the same thing. He moved in a trade when the Ravens were on the verge of cutting him last spring, and the 49ers were the beneficiary of a cap crunch in Baltimore. After watching the coaches’ video of Boldin’s first game with San Francisco, I’m more amazed than I was Sunday night, when I’d been able to see only a few plays in the Niners’ win over Green Bay because of my NBC duties, and when I only knew the stat line: 12 catches, 208 yards, one touchdown. Impressive, I thought—especially considering it was Boldin’s first game in a new offense with a new quarterback.

But watching the tape, and getting the exact numbers from Pro Football Focus about where Boldin lined up, makes Seattle’s job more daunting Sunday night in the game of the weekend. I’d hoped to see Richard Sherman vs. Boldin for much of the game Sunday night, two guys at the top of their game. But that’s not the way it’s lining up.

“They line him up in different places,’’ Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor told me from the Seattle practice facility in suburban Renton, “to throw teams off. Overall, they do a great job of disguising the plays they run.’’

That was on display against Green Bay, Boldin played 64 snaps. Looking at the distribution of where he played, and where he caught the most throws from Colin Kaepernick:

boldin-chart

This is San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s specialty. He’s becoming the Bill Belichick of NFL offenses—no two gameplans ever look the same. After the Niners won the NFC title game in Atlanta with running threat Kaepernick limited to one designed run all game, Roman told me: “Sometimes as a play-caller, the intent is to deceive. We’re not very much into stats around here. We play reality football. We don’t play fantasy football.”

Pocket Change

By dialing back his sledgehammer arm and harnessing his thoroughbred speed, Colin Kaepernick has softened his touch and made the 49ers virtually unstoppable. The Seahawks get their chance to rough him up Sunday in prime time.

So expect to see lots of changeups from Boldin Sunday night against the aggressive Seattle secondary. Which is fine with Chancellor. He thinks Vernon Davis or Kyle Williams could be just as troublesome Sunday night, and he doesn’t much care. Chancellor said: “The way we play ball here, we don’t prepare for one guy. They play good as a team. As far as our gameplan, we plan for the whole offense, and everyone we’ve seen on tape there is capable of making plays. You have to remember they want to pound the ball and establish their running game. They’re a downhill running team. You have to wrap their legs up. They run a lot of cross routes, seams. We want to take care of the deep routes and get them to run the checkdowns.’’

On a play early in the third quarter against Green Bay, you could see the faith Kaepernick has in Boldin already. Boldin came out of a bunch formation in the right slot, and as he flowed up the right seam, he was bracketed in coverage by cornerback Sam Shields and safety Jerron McMillian. Kaepernick let it fly anyway—and coming over the top when the ball was in the air was another safety, M.D. Jennings. In the middle of this scrum, Boldin plucked the ball out of the air and took big hits but held on. Gain of 22. That’s the kind of throw Peyton Manning made to Marvin Harrison after they’d been together for six or eight years—when each knew exactly what the other was thinking. Kaepernick and Boldin, obviously, are comfortable enough now that the quarterback trusts that, at worst, Boldin will at least make sure the ball isn’t picked off.

“The guy’s a fierce competitor,’’ said Chancellor. “Physical receiver, good hands, and whether he’s covered or not, he’s still a threat to get the ball.”

I know what I’ll be watching Sunday night—and what I hope my NBC associates, Sunday night producer Fred Gaudelli and director Drew Esocoff, have lots of isolated shots on during the best game of Week 2.

About Last Night …

New England 13, N.Y. Jets 10. Possessions: 31. Punts: 20. The game: gruesome. There are 74 frustrating points to make, but one stuck out as the clock struck midnight and this game was put out of its misery. The Pats led 13-10 with three minutes to go, and had 3rd-and-5 at their 36-yard line. Everyone knew what was coming—a pass to Julian Edelman, the only receiver Tom Brady trusted at this point of a bizarre game. Edelman started wide left and went into motion toward the formation, and at the snap of the ball tried to rub off one of his receivers across the middle. And so who covered him? A linebacker, Demario Davis. A linebacker. I don’t care what the excuse is. Edelman should have been doubled wherever he went on the field, and at least one of the cover men should have been a cornerback. Instead, it was a gain of nine, and Brady was able to run the clock down to 56 seconds before the Jets got the ball back. What a waste. Not that Geno Smith would have been able to do anything with the ball, but it would have been much better for him to have the ball at his 20 with 2:35 to go, than at his 29 with 56 seconds to go.

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18 comments
OffshoreInsiders.com
OffshoreInsiders.com

Kaepernick is on the verge of being the NFL premier QB. It's not deception Seattle needs to worry about, it's his unlimited skills. 

RCH
RCH

"Seattle’s Ready for the 49ers’ Deception Game". And we know this how? You wouldn't happen to have tonight's powerball numbers by any chance also would you?

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

Your love affair with all things pats and belichick is pathetic.  Making points about other teams and feeling the need to reference your boy over and over?  What a joke.  It is why everyone can see the bias a mile away and think that is disgusting "reporting" for someone in the "national" not LOCAL media.  And of course you are one of the idiots that loves the pats so much you picked them to win the super bowl.  With that trash Brady is throwing to they will be lucky to win 10 games.  Belichick is a joke and his ego has totally gotten in the way of putting real talent around Brady at the end of his career.  Talk about ruining the best seasons of Brady's life.  Belichick gets way way too much credit.  Way more than he deserves.  

Jim21
Jim21

Peterson can get as many carries and yards as he wants. The Vikings haven't won in the last 8 games against the Bears anyways. 

supsonics
supsonics

This should a much better game than last year. While the Niners lost Receivers during the preseason, Boldins proven he still has something to prove. Kaepernick is only getting better and was certainly a better choice than the short yardage conservative playing Alex Smith. 

Seattle's Defensive backfield is solid. However, no Clemons/Irvin is brutal. If this were in Candlestick, I'd pick the Niners. However, the fact it's in Seattle and the 12th man is going for a noise record may give the Hawks a slight (and I mean slight) advantage. Of course it's always fun to watch 2 coaches who hate each other and are hated by everybody else but their own teams and fans go at it. 

http://seahawksfantasyfootball.blogspot.com

Michael185
Michael185

Or the Niners can run it down Seattle's throat like they have for every one of their wins. To nearly a tune of 5.0 ypc. That last loss? Gore's carries were in single digits.

Kaultar
Kaultar

Boldin earned my respect when he came back from the broken jaw in 3 weeks when he was in AZ.  The guy isn't the fastest but uses his size and spacial awareness very well.  He's going up against the best secondary in the NFL so I we'll see how he performs.

Fedorg4s
Fedorg4s

Look Anquan Boldin is a great receiver who's had a very solid career and even now is a very good receiver, but let's not get carried away. People seem to have forgotten that he joined the Niners as a receiver past his prime and not the next Calvin Johnson or AJ Green , while he did have a spectacular game, don't expect him to get 200 yards possibly ever again in his career. The Packers D did a horrible coverage job on him and he won't catch anyone off guard the rest of they year. 

Mike26
Mike26

@RCH Seattle derives special powers from all the PED's that its players inject/injest/sniff.

Shalaka
Shalaka

@supsonics hate this hate that.  Don't buy into it.  I don't hate SF.  I don't hate SF fans. WTF people, it's a game, grow up.  Don't hate anyone, enjoy the game.

gsxrs
gsxrs

@Michael185 what? those bath salts can kill you man, better check your stats man, Gore hasn't ran it down anyones throats at the woodshed, um 45 to what?


sheesh, whiners have some serious imaginations sunday cant get here soon enough, seattles D will tie frank to the whipping post, cant wait

Shalaka
Shalaka

@Michael185 ya they ran alot when they were down 41-10 like the last time they played... are you stupid, forgetful, or just plain ignorant?

jb22
jb22

@Michael185 I'm shocked SF didn't run the ball more while behind 28-6 at the half.  Why didn't anyone think of that, just run the ball while you're so far behind.  Genius!

olansuddeth
olansuddeth

@Fedorg4s Agree that he probably won't see 200 again this year, but I'll be stunned if he doesn't continue to be an integral part of that offense.  The guy finds ways to get open, and he simply makes big catches - and has done so his entire career.  I expect to see Patton grow in that offense, and Crabtree was close to being a legit star when he got hurt... but Boldin will continue to be an impact player.

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