Three and Out: Boldin's adjustments; big numbers from Gore?
Frank Gore has averaged 125.5 yards from scrimmage in his career against Seattle. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
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SANTA CLARA -- Wide receiver Anquan Boldin expects to receive a lot more attention Sunday night when the 49ers travel to face the Seattle Seahawks.
And 49ers running back Frank Gore figures the Seahawks learned from the Green Bay Packers’ mistakes and will not devote all their attention toward stopping the 49ers’ run game.
In the season opener, the Packers were determined to force the 49ers’ passing game to beat them. After all, Gore rushed for 112 and 119 yards in the two games against Green Bay last season. And, of course, quarterback Colin Kaepernick pranced through the Packers' defense for 181 yards rushing in the playoff victory.
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“Oh, man, me and Kap,” Gore said of the Packers’ plan to stop the run. “It wasn’t just me. The first game (last season), we killed them on the ground. The second game we (expletive) went crazy on the ground. So knowing we had them the first game, they weren’t going to let us run the ball like that. We got the win, that’s what counts.”
The Packers limited Gore to just 44 yards on 21 rushing attempts. (Gore did score the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, though.) And Kaepernick rushed for 22 yards on seven attempts. That opened things up for the passing game, and Kaepernick responded with 412 yards through the air.
Boldin, who caught 65 passes for 921 yards and to lead the Baltimore Ravens last season, was the beneficiary of the Packers’ approach. He caught 13 of the 17 passes thrown his way for 208 yards and a touchdown. He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Things do not figure to come nearly as easy this week against the Seahawks, who will undoubtedly learn from the Packers’ failed approach.
“Of course,” Boldin said. “Nobody wants to make the same mistake that the previous team made. That’s why you watch film. That’s why you game plan. Things that teams do well the following week, opponents will try to take that out.
“We can only speculate. We watch film and we think we’re going to get certain looks, but you don’t know until the game comes.”
The Packers played mostly zone coverage against Boldin so they could react quickly any time Kaepernick began to scramble. With inexperienced Green Bay safeties M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian a step slow to react all day, Boldin routinely found seams in the Packers secondary.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, play a lot of press coverage with their cornerbacks. All-Pro Richard Sherman figures to be in Boldin's face for most of the game. Brandon Browner missed the Seahawks’ opener due to a hamstring strain. He did not practice Wednesday. Walter Thurmond will start at right cornerback if Browner is unavailable.
“We’re just going to do what we always do,” safety Earl Thomas said on a conference call with Bay Area reporters, referring to the corners playing tight coverage.
“No seams and no posts with safeties. I just think the secondary they played (against Green Bay) is a lot different than ours.”
Said Kaepernick, ““Our receivers have to be more physical. As an offense, we have to be more physical. They’re a great defense.”
Boldin (shown, below right) is a powerful presence at wide receiver who will try to muscle his way through press coverage. On the other side is Kyle Williams, at 5 foot 10, 186 pounds, who will attempt to beat the Seahawks off the line of scrimmage with his quickness.
“I think you have to do what you do best,” Boldin said. “Some guys who are smaller guys, use your quickness. If you’re a bigger guy, use your physicality. It varies from receiver to receiver.”
The 49ers will look for others in the receiving game to step up with the Seahawks likely focusing their attention on Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis. Williams caught three passes for 36 yards in Week 1.
“Any corner will tell you, if they miss on it (press coverage) or you get their hands off of you, then that opens up somethings down the field,” Williams said. “But you have to get their hands off. “
Seattle allowed Carolina quarterback Cam Newton to throw for just 125 yards last week in the Seahawks' 12-7 opening-week victory. But Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams averaged 5.1 yards a carry with 86 yards on 17 rushing attempts.
Gore gained 1,238 yards rushing in his first eight seasons against the 49ers’ NFC West rival. That’s the most career yards from the Seahawks have surrendered against any opponent in club history. He has averaged 125.5 yards from scrimmage against Seattle.
“We have another tough opponent in Seattle, and we’ll see what they bring to the table,” Gore said. “I want to see what they’ll do, now that Kap has shown he can run, throw, block.
“As long as he stays healthy this year, after this year, he’ll be a top-three quarterback. He can do whatever. He can run. He can throw. You look at the top guys, and they can’t run like him. And he can throw like them. That’s scary, right?”