Anquan Boldin has seen double teams before in his 11-year career. But never quite as many as have been thrown at him and the 49ers in the first five games of the season. "At times, but not as much," Boldin said today when asked if he saw double coverage in Arizona and Baltimore.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman echoed those sentiments. "Well, he's getting doubled some. He got doubled quite a bit last week (against Houston), especially on third down," Roman said. "And there's a lot of different way you can play doubles, and he's seen all of them this year. And it's just becoming more prevalent. And it's to be expected, really."
The issue underscores a problem that arose when Michael Crabtree injured his Achilles' heal on May 21: The 49ers didn't have an obvious No. 2 option at wideout then, and they still don't now. Boldin has accounted for 67 percent of the team's wide-receiver catches, 78 percent of the wide-receiver yards and 100 percent of the team's wide-receiver touchdowns.
Roman said those double teams will dictate where the ball goes on a given pass play. That is, if Boldin is getting extra attention, Colin Kaepernick shouldn't force a pass in his direction. Instead, he should look to where the coverage is thinner.
The problem is that despite all the double teams against the Texans, Kaepernick didn't connect with any other wideout aside from Boldin, who played opposite Larry Fitzgerald when he was with the Cardinals and had Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones to take the pressure off last year with the Ravens. Jon Baldwin, who played 23 snaps Sunday, was targeted twice but both attempts were incomplete.
"The ball's going to go to the open guy," Roman said. "And other guys besides Anquan need to step up. I think John Baldwin was a great example. Coverage dictated the ball goes to him against the Rams and that's where the ball goes, and he makes the play."
Roman, however, noted that circumstances in the Texans game - primarily that the 49ers took a quick 14-0 lead and did not have a lot of offensive possessions, meant that they did not attempt a lot of passes. Kaepernick made 15 throws; Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, by contrast, attempted 35.
Boldin also noted that his double teams seemed to be worse against the Colts when Vernon Davis did not play while dealing with a hamstring strain. "There's a difference when he's not in there," Boldin said. "I get a lot more roll coverage, more double teams. Defenses definitely try to take me out a lot more when he's not in there."
Notes - Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said there was a possibility that Nnamdi Asomugha will be recovered enough from his knee injury to play Sunday against Arizona but will be a healthy scratch. That seems to suggest that Asomugha may be considered expendable should fellow cornerback Eric Wright be elevated to the 53-man squad. Fangio, however, said he did not have a timetable on when Wright will be game ready.
-- Asked if he thought Aldon Smith, who had gun charges levied against him Wednesday, would play again this season, he said, "I don't know that yet. I don't know that yet."
-- Patrick Willis said he felt better this week than he did at this point last week. Willis thought he would play against the Texans but in the end realized he was not ready. He seemed far more confident today.
- Matt Barrows