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January 15, 2014
Pick your poison: 49ers return to Seattle with more firepower


Immediately after last 49ers game in Seattle, on Sept. 15, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll giddily pointed to the stat sheet. "They got nothing done," Carroll said amid the post-game euphoria of a 29-3 win. "What were their numbers? What did Anquan do tonight? Their quarterback threw for (412) last week. He threw for (127) tonight."

Indeed, receiver Anquan Boldin, who had had 13 catches for 208 yards a week earlier against Green Bay, was held to one catch for seven yards by Seattle's talented and aggressive secondary. That catch didn't come until the middle of the fourth quarter when the game was far, far out of reach. It turned out to be Boldin's lowest output of the season.

The Seahawks certainly could hold Boldin, the team's leading receiver in the regular season, down again on Sunday. But if the pattern the 49ers have established in the last few weeks holds true, a quiet game from Boldin means that the receiver on the other side, Michael Crabtree, will have a big game. The chart below highlights most prominent difference between the 49ers now and when they went to Seattle in Week 2. In Crabtree, who returned from an Achilles' injury in Week 13, Colin Kaepernick has another receiver he won't hesitate to target.

The last few weeks have been a case in point. In the regular-season finale against Arizona, Boldin caught nine passes for 149 yards. The next week the Packers made sure Boldin wouldn't thump them again, and he caught only three passes for 38 yards. But Crabtree finished with 125 yards in that game. A week after that, the Carolina Panthers' attention was on Crabtree, and Boldin had eight catches for 138 yards.

"I guess they thought they were going to try and take Crab out of the game," Boldin said after the win over the Panthers. "That's the good part about our offense -- we have weapons all around. Try and take one guy out, we still have two, three guys left who can make big plays."

Said offensive coordinator Greg Roman: "Some (opponents) pick their poison. And we're always very curious to see what that poison is, and then answer likewise."

Crabtree stats
Wk 13 vs. STL: 2, 68
Wk 14 vs. SEA: 4, 40
Wk 15 @ TB: 5, 45
Wk 16 vs. ATL: 5-102
Wk 17 @ ARI: 3-29
Wk 1 @GB: 8-125
Wk 2 @ CAR: 3-26

Boldin stats
Wk 13 vs. STL: 9-98
Wk 14 vs. SEA: 6-93
Wk 15 @ TB: 3-43
Wk 16 vs. ATL: 6-72
Wk 17 @ ARI: 9-149
Wk 1 @GB: 3-38
Wk 2 @ CAR: 8-136

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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