Jim Harbaugh loves what Anquan Boldin can do on the football field. But getting to know his newest wide receiver on a personal level does not necessarily give the 49ers head coach the warm and fuzzies.
“He’s not always the friendliest guy to sit down next to in a meeting or at lunch and have a conversation with, unless it’s about football, ” Harbaugh said. “He’s just serious about it. It almost comes off as a little bit as, ‘I don’t want any distraction. I want to be focused on football.’”
Boldin laughed when his head coach’s thoughts were relayed to him. It’s nothing the 11-year NFL veteran hasn’t heard before.
“I hear it from everybody. I even hear it from my mom,” Boldin said in his first comments to the media since 49ers training camp opened.
“I’ve heard that from a lot of people, that I can seem unwelcoming or not warm at times. I guess that’s just who I am. Not that I’m a mean person or whatever. But if I’m playing football, I’m focused in on doing that. I don’t see the need to chit-chat. If you catch me in the right position I will talk to you. But out here for me, it’s business.”
Boldin will speak up if he feels something needs to be said. But those instances are few and far between. That doesn’t stop many of Boldin’s new teammates from wanting to talk up the three-time Pro Bowler. The defensive players want to know what the Ravens scouting reports from last year’s Super Bowl said about them. The younger receivers seek his advice on the practice field.
“The great thing about it is those guys ask questions,” Boldin said of his fellow receivers. “Those are the guys that are hungry to learn. They’re teachable guys, so if you say something to them they try to apply it right away. I think that’s been the best part about it.”
Boldin is back in learning mode as well. Coordinator Greg Roman has lessened the burden of transitioning to a new offense by featuring the physical receiver’s strong points in several plays. But Boldin is not where he wants to be in understanding Roman’s schemes or the tendencies of his new quarterback.
“You have to go through the grind in order to get to that point. You got to do it in practice. The more reps you take, the more comfortable you become with one another,” Boldin said of Colin Kaepernick. “You want to be to the point where you don’t really have to communicate verbally, you can just look at each other and say ‘I know what the other guy’s thinking.’ I think the more time we spend together, the more reps we have, we’ll get there.”
Boldin doesn’t anticipate needing more game time this preseason than is typical for a player with his experience to develop a familiarity with Kaepernick. All the same, Boldin believes an important part of building that game time chemistry comes from time spent away from the game.
“I try to do as much as I can even to have the rapport with him off the field, just to find out likes and dislikes,” Boldin said.
Given all that the two have experienced the last few months, the new teammates should find plenty of things to talk about.