Almost nothing went right for the 49ers when they traveled to Seattle last December.
The Seahawks jumped on the Niners early, taking a 21-0 lead less than a minute into the second quarter en route to a 42-13 victory at CenturyLink Field. The noise of the Seahawks’ 12th Man seemed to unnerve San Francisco, which absorbed its most lopsided defeat in the Jim Harbaugh era.
Cornerback Carlos Rogers said afterward that the whole Seattle experience was “a punch in the face.”
Now the 1-0 49ers travel again to CenturyLink to face the 1-0 Seahawks in a nationally televised Sunday night game, and some have wondered if the 49ers will be able to cope with the noise and a pumped-up division rival with that wipeout still fresh in their minds.
One thing the 49ers will have in their favor this time, however, is wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
Boldin should be a steadying presence for the 49ers in a hostile environment. He’s a big, physical, wideout who won’t be intimidated by trash-talking cornerback Richard Sherman. Boldin has played in plenty of big games – including two Super Bowls – and is coming off a dynamic debut as a 49er, in which he had 13 catches for more than 200 yards in a victory over the Packers Sunday.
Plus, the status of Seattle’s other corner, Brandon Browner, is in doubt. Browner didn’t play in the opener vs. Carolina because of an injured hamstring, and Seattle head coach Pete Carroll wants to make certain he’s at full speed again before putting him in a game. The 6-foot-4, 221-pound Browner would likely be the guy to lock on to Boldin if he can play. If he can’t, it’s possible that Sherman would get the assignment.
No matter what, Boldin’s chemistry with his new quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, should give Kaepernick a steady, physical, go-to receiver amid the din of Seattle Sunday night.
“I’ve never been a guy who relied on my speed anyway, but I know how to get open,” Boldin told Peter King of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback after the 49ers’ victory over Green Bay. “And Colin and I have developed a good relationship, so it doesn’t feel like we’re new to each other at all.”
Boldin isn’t likely to have 13 catches against Seattle, but if he and Kaepernick again can convert some key plays early, it could steady the offense, produce some positive momentum and open doors for other receivers and the running game.
As columnist Michael Silver of NFL.com notes, Boldin brings more to the 49ers than just his play-making ability on the field.
“He also exudes attitude in a locker room full of big hitters and bold personalities,” Silver wrote this week. Silver notes that was apparent for all to see when Boldin charged into the fray as soon as Packers linebacker Clay Matthews sparked a scrum with his out-of-bounds hit on Kaepernick Sunday.
“He knew what he was doing,” Boldin told Silver, in regard to Matthews’ hit. “We’re definitely not (going to stand for that). You don’t let anybody cheap-shot your quarterback. … We weren’t going to tolerate it.”
Boldin has brought that winning, tough attitude to the Arizona Cardinals and the Baltimore Ravens. Now he’s added it to a Niners team that already was oozing with confidence. His addition might be just the X factor the 49ers need in Sunday night’s rematch in Seattle.