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Anquan Boldin key to 49ers' passionate journey to title game

  • Anquan Boldin.

SEATTLE — NaVorro Bowman probably wasn't the only 49er who arched an eyebrow last March when the team traded a sixth-round draft choice for wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who as a member of the Baltimore Ravens had helped deny the Niners a championship just five weeks earlier.

“We had just lost the Super Bowl, so I was a little yeah and nay on that one,” Bowman, the all-pro linebacker, admitted with a smile this week.

But it didn't take long for Boldin to show the 49ers what his former teammates in Baltimore and Arizona had learned long before. That in a profession where high effort is a requisite, no one works harder. That on a team built around tough guys, nobody is more willing to absorb punishment. That in a league dominated by the passing game, few receivers have been more productive over the past decade than Anquan Boldin.

When the 49ers take the field in deafening CenturyLink Field here today in the NFC championship game, Boldin is one of the players they'll be looking to for guidance.

“I'll tell you a story about Anquan,” said quarterback Josh McCown, who has played 11 NFL seasons (including a brief preseason stint with the 49ers in 2011) and enjoyed a resurgence with the Bears this season.

McCown goes on to describe Boldin's first NFL game, in September 2003. They were teammates with the Cardinals when Boldin began his pro career with a 10-catch, 217-yard performance in a loss to Detroit.

“He had the greatest rookie debut in the history of the league,” McCown said. “He also muffed a punt in that game. I don't think it lost the game or anything, but it was a big play. So after the game, everyone is crowding around Anquan's locker, and everyone is asking him about all the catches. And all he wanted to talk about is the punt. That sort of tells you what kind of player he is.”

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