SANTA CLARA -- Colin Kaepernick had a reason for targeting Michael Crabtree with so many passes last season.
"He gets open."
That's how Kaepernick described his reliance on Crabtree last season. And Kaepernick has a familiar answer in the early days of training camp when asked what he likes about slot receiver Chad Hall, who is competing for a spot on the roster.
"He gets open."
Kaepernick might eventually say the same thing about Anquan Boldin, but the one trait that has made Boldin successful throughout his 10-year career is an ability to make important plays even when he's not open.
Boldin has an ability to use his body to shield defenders and make great catches even when he's not open. (The 49ers know a thing or two about that, based on his performance in the Super Bowl for the victorious Baltimore Ravens.)
So has Kaepernick gotten a good feel for when to throw the ball to Boldin when it appears he is closely covered?
"We're still in the process of working through that," Boldin said Tuesday. "That is just a trust thing. I think the more you do it, the more the receiver comes through for you, the more you trust in him.
"Obviously, we haven't been in that many situations to where we could work on it. There have been times in practice where he's given me a chance and we completed them. As a receiver, my thought is, every time a quarterback throws the ball to you, the more you complete the pass the more confidence he'll have in you."
Kaepernick had that kind of chemistry with Michael Crabtree, who caught 62 passes for 931 yards and eight touchdowns in the 9 1/2 games Kaepernick played last season. But Kaepernick must find a new No. 1 receiver this season with Crabtree out until, at least, late in the season with a torn Achilles.
On a team with an unsettled depth chart at wide receiver, the only given is that Boldin will be the starter at flanker. Boldin and Kaepernick are seen speaking regularly on the practice field, as they continue to build a bond during training camp.
"I think it's going great," Kaepernick said. "He makes it very easy on quarterbacks. He's a savvy guy. He's played in a lot of games. He knows what the defense is doing. He knows where the weak spots in the defense are, and where he wants to get to.
"He helps me see things more from his perspective. As a receiver, what they're looking at and what they need from a quarterback to help them be successful."