I was supposed to chat with San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin late last week, but we had a bit of a scheduling conflict that prevented that from happening. So after I chatted with his public-relations folks, we decided to do the interview over email since the event he was promoting had passed.
That obviously changes the dynamic of the interview. It's a lot easier for a player to think and choose his words very carefully when responding to tough questions, so I opted for more general ones about where he thought the team was at right now — viewed as anything from a Super Bowl contender to a hot mess amid some recent setbacks. (Note: Boldin chose not to talk about Aldon Smith's suspension, and I wrote him before Ray McDonald's arrest happened.)
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The team has only a few days left to prepare for the opener against the Dallas Cowboys, and yet Boldin believes the naysayers who watched the 49ers' preseason performance, especially offensively, will come to realize that things are just fine in San Fran.
"It’s important for us to put everything together as a team," Boldin wrote. "We’re very strong in all areas, and there’s also an opportunity for guys to step up. For us, our biggest indicator is what we do in practice. We feel good about where we are and looking forward to the regular season start."
Practice sessions are now closed to the media, so we'll have to take Boldin's word that things are starting to turn around for the 49ers' offense. But what about the locker room? I wanted to know how things were amid reports that Jim Harbaugh's team was in chaos, and more specifically I wanted to know why he and the other 49ers appeared to be so supportive of their coach still.
"His attitude. The way he understand and approaches football," Boldin said. "We have a very similar way we look at things, and Harbaugh is a big reason I came back to the 49ers organization."
When I asked about beating the Seahawks and what it would take to surpass them this season, Boldin wasn't biting. His answer — "The key thing is us putting it all together on the field the way we do in practice." — sounded remarkably familiar to the one he gave to my first question.
But Boldin was a little more revealing when I asked about how long he might play and whether he thinks about statistical milestones — such as being 143 catches away from 1,000 in his career.
"I take it a year at a time and my only goal is to help San Francisco win a championship," he said. "The milestones are a result of hard work in achieving that goal, and I’m proud to have the milestones throughout my career, and also milestones off the field.
Boldin is promoting his gloves — yes, you might have noticed his patented pink ones in past Octobers — which are made by Cutters. Funny story: Boldin actually had a Reebok deal when he first tried Cutters and because he loved his new gloves so much, Reebok actually dropped him. But Boldin never looked back. And he didn't hesitate to help start the pink trend several years back, one that never NFLers (such as teammate Frank Gore, the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles and the Redskins' Pierre Garcon) also would follow suit with.
"I recently learned that I was actually among the first to wear pink gloves for breast cancer awareness, when I provided pink gloves to my high school football team so that they could wear what I was wearing," Boldin said. "Didn’t realize that movement would help stir an even larger campaign throughout the NFL."
Boldin and the 49ers have a great chance to stir their offense on Sunday, too, as the Cowboys appear quite vulnerable defensively. And yet, if I read Boldin's words right — the part about being strong in all areas but also that guys still can step up — I remind myself that Harbaugh's teams often take until January to get heated up. In other words, they're typically built to last. We'll see if Boldin's words come true.
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