SANTA CLARA -- Wide receiver Anquan Boldin is in his 11th NFL season, and he’s been selected to three Pro Bowls.
But through five games -- and especially after Week 1 -- Boldin is seeing more double coverage than at any point in his career.
“At times,” he said Thursday when asked about getting double-teamed in previous seasons, “but not as much (as this season).”
The reason is simple: The 49ers have not gotten any production from another wide receiver. Without another threat on the outside, defenses can place most of their attention on Boldin while playing man coverage against anyone else the 49ers line up at wide receiver.
“He’s getting doubled some,” 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “He got doubled quite a big last week (against the Houston Texans), especially on third down.
“There are a lot of different ways you can play doubles, and he’s seeing just about all of them this year. It’s becoming more prevalent, and to be expected, really.”
Boldin leads the 49ers with 26 receptions for 393 yards and two touchdowns. Half of his catches and more than half of his receiving yards came in a 13-catch, 208-yard performance in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers.
When asked if is eager to see another wide receiver take advantage of all the attention given to Boldin, Roman said, “Always, always. There’s no question. The ball’s going to go where coverage dictates, for the most part, especially when you have multiple receivers in a pattern.
“Other guys besides Anquan need to step up."
Boldin was acquired in an offseason trade with the Baltimore Ravens to line up alongside Michael Crabtree, the team’s top receiver from a year ago. But when Crabtree was lost for approximately six months due to a torn Achilles he sustained in May, Boldin became the focal point of quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the passing game.
“Anquan has been everything we expected, and then some,” Roman said.
Kyle Williams has just nine catches for 87 yards in five games. Jon Baldwin, who got his first start with the 49ers last week and has been active just twice, has two catches for 19 yards.
However, Roman said he does not feel that his hands are tied because all the wide receivers are working hard. And help is expected to come in the second half of the season when Mario Manningham and Crabtree return from injuries.
Then, perhaps, things can return to normal for Boldin.