SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers did not appear to be lacking a No. 1 receiver on the practice field Tuesday during Week 2 of organized team activities.
Veteran receiver Anquan Boldin was in playoff form in May, as he deftly plucked passes out of the air in traffic. In short, he showed all the qualities that made him the Baltimore Ravens' leader in receptions and receiving yards last season during the team’s Super Bowl run.
"Today you got a good look at what he's been doing," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He really picked up the system fast and making plays, big catches in tight areas. You saw what we've been seeing for a couple weeks now. Very good."
Boldin, acquired in a March trade for a sixth-round draft pick, made several nifty catches during 7-on-7 drills. But his best reception came amid three defenders on a beautifully thrown pass on a seam route from rookie quarterback B.J. Daniels.
Boldin, a 10-year veteran, is not known for gaining a lot of separation on his routes. But he is known for competing for the ball and winning the fight against defensive backs. He did it against the 49ers in the Super Bowl, and he did it against 49ers defensive backs on the practice field.
Boldin said he tells quarterbacks, "Even if it doesn't look like I'm open, just give me a chance. I'll make a play for you.”
And that’s what he did on Tuesday, as the 49ers returned to work after the Memorial Day weekend.
"They did a good job of going through those reads,” Boldin said. “It was one of those days where it happened to be me. It's not always like that. Another day, it might be another receiver. Today was just one of those days."
During a two-minute drill near the end of practice, starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick hit Boldin for a first-down pass but the drive stalled from there. Boldin seemed to be on the same page with each of the 49ers’ quarterbacks.
The adjustment for Boldin, he said, is just learning what the plays are called.
"This is my 11th year in the league, so I've played in a number of different systems," he said. "I think the only thing is getting the verbiage down. I've ran a lot of the plays that are run here, but it was called something different. It's just translating right now."
Even the strength of Kaepernick's arm has not fazed Boldin, who has played with Joe Flacco and Kurt Warner, among others.
"I've played with some quarterbacks with pretty strong arms, so I don't think there will be an adjustment period," he said.
"Kaep is a special talent. He has a big arm. He can make any throw on the field, which is a plus for us. And he can get outside the pocket and if a play breaks down, he can make plays with his legs or buy more time for his receivers to get open."
Boldin is seeing his action at the flanker position, while A.J. Jenkins, Quinton Patton and Ricardo Lockette are completing at split end to replace No. 1 receiver Michael Crabtree, who sustained a torn Achilles tendon last week.
"Coach says it's an open competition on the other side, which I think is one of the better things he could've done," Boldin said. "It really forces guys to come out and work.
"It makes guys strive for perfection. It makes guys compete. It makes guys go and do things they might not ordinarily do -- get in the film room extra, getting with the coach and getting with the veterans."
The young receivers have spent time daily with Boldin and cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, among other veterans. It's incumbent on the young receivers to raise their levels of play to help the team compensate for the loss of Crabtree.
"That's football. It's always that way," Boldin said. "A guy like Crabtree, you don't replace. He's that good of a talent. He's definitely an integral part of this offense. But when you lose a guy like that, the next guy has to step up. There are no options. There's no wait and see. Guys have to step up and make plays."