Boldin was traded from Baltimore to San Francisco last year, and he fell one game short of playing in consecutive Super Bowls. Along the way he had one of his best statistical seasons at 33 years old, but he doesn't appear to be slowing down.
He signed a two-year deal worth $12 million with $9 million guaranteed, and he never tested free agency. Boldin is hoping to win another ring in San Francisco.
"It was a place that I wanted to go back to," Boldin told me following a training session at XPE Sports in South Florida. "I felt like during my one-year tender there everything fell into place. I was welcomed with open arms. It was a franchise that wanted me there. I fell into a great, great locker room. Some guys that really want to win. Guys that are hungry. Coaches that are hungry. And a fan base that is crazy. It was a place that my family loved as well. They had a great time out there. It was a good fit."
Boldin was a pleasant surprise in 2013 – especially for Fantasy owners – when he caught 85 passes for 1,179 yards and seven touchdowns. The catches were his best total since his last season in Arizona in 2009, his yards were his best since 2006 and he last scored seven touchdowns in 2010.
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"It's going to be big," Boldin said of Crabtree being back. "It's going to be major for us. Toward the end of the season you were able to see a glimpse of what it's like to have me and him on the field at the same time, and then you have Vernon working out of the tight end position. And we have the young guy in Quinton Patton coming along. We were expecting him to play well. With all four of us on the field and Frank coming out of the backfield and getting Lattimore healthy, it's going to be tough. It's going to be a potent offense, and we're looking to make a run this year."
Boldin knows Kaepernick playing at a high level is key to making it all work, and he's impressed with his young quarterback's development. Kaepernick started his first full season in 2013 and has been a dynamic playmaker the past two years, but Boldin said this could be his best year yet.
"People criticize for him not being a conventional, prototypical quarterback, but there isn't anything that I've seen the prototype quarterback do that he can't do," Boldin said. "He can make every throw on the field, he's a smart guy but he's athletic. When things break down, he's able to make plays. You just look at the playoffs alone, you see him running wild over defenses. He's going to be something to deal with for a lot of years to come. He's still young, he's still learning but he's still willing to listen. He takes advice, but that's still good."
Kaepernick had a solid season in 2013 with 3,197 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions and 92 carries for 524 yards and four touchdowns. He should improve on those stats this season with his full complement of weapons, and I consider him a Top 5 Fantasy quarterback.
The key for Kaepernick going from good to great is likely his rushing prowess -- he had at least seven Fantasy points on the ground in four of his final five games, including the playoffs – and Boldin said he encourages Kaepernick to run as much as possible.
"My advice to him is any time it's there, run it," Boldin said. "You have the ability. It scares the crap out of defenses whenever you have a quarterback that can take off and get 40 yards on a scramble. Use all the weapons that you have."
Boldin could see a downturn in production with Crabtree healthy for a full season, but he played great once Crabtree returned. In their five games together in the regular season, Boldin had 35 catches for 455 yards and two touchdowns, with at least nine Fantasy points in four of those outings.
One thing Boldin has going for him is his work ethic. He took three weeks off once the season ended, but he started training right away and will do so until training camp. Boldin works out with noted NFL trainer Tony Villani at XPE Sports, and he credits those training sessions for allowing him to play like he's 23 instead of 33.
"I always feel like when I'm working out, somebody else isn't, so that gives me a competitive advantage," Boldin said. "It's always been that way. I'm going to work while somebody else is sleeping. This league is real competitive, and everybody in this league is talented. The thing that's going to separate you from the rest of the guys is your work ethic."
Villani has worked with Boldin for several years, and he continues to be impressed how he produces for an 11-year veteran.
"Anquan would be great with no matter who he trains with. He's just that disciplined," Villani said. "With him, he's a real, quick powerful guy with his size. We're trying to do everything we can to keep his game speed. That's what we work on the most with him is keeping his game speed."
We'll find out how Boldin does on the field this year, but off the field he continues to be a positive influence in the community. On April 10, Boldin will host the 10th annual Q-Fest for the Anquan Boldin "Q81" Foundation, which benefits underprivileged youths in his hometown of Pahokee, Fla.
Of his accomplishments over the past 10 years with the foundation, Boldin said he is most proud of the individual stories of helping kids graduate and providing holiday dinners and shopping sprees to children who otherwise couldn't afford it.
"Those are the things that I consider accomplishments," Boldin said. "That's the reason you have a foundation. That's the reason you give back. I think we've been able to impact a number of lives over the 10 years."