Greg Cosell spoke on KNBR Tuesday morning. Here’s what he said about the 49ers.
Q: What are the 49ers getting in Anquan Boldin?
COSELL: Boldin doesn’t win against man coverage very well. He’s a contested-catch receiver. He’s got really good hands, vice grip hands. He’s better in the slot than he is on the outside. You can throw the ball to him when he’s covered and he’ll make catches. He’s very, very good in the red zone because he’s a naturally strong receiver who catches the ball in tight quarters. That’s what he is.
Obviously, people will remember the Super Bowl run, and he made some terrific catches. Almost all of them were contested. That’s what Anquan Boldin is. He does not separate versus one-on-one coverage, but he gives the quarterback confidence to throw the ball to him because he makes those difficult catches.
Q: Is he a max-effort guy?
COSELL: Yeah. He was the most consistent receiver on the Ravens, and I think he was the receiver that Joe Flacco felt most comfortable throwing the ball to because he makes contested catches. When you get to big games, that’s who he throws it to and he catches it.
Q: Do you think Boldin will be more productive for the 49ers than Randy Moss was?
COSELL: Yes, I don’t even think that’s a question. To me, there’s no comparison whatsoever.
Q: Will he give the Niners Manningham-like production?
COSELL: I think Boldin is better than that, too. He’s a different receiver than Manningham, but I think he’s just a better player.
Q: Are Boldin and Michael Crabtree similar players?
COSELL: I can understand the comparison. I think Crabtree is a more explosive athlete. He’s not explosive the way some other receivers are, but he’s a better mover at this point. Boldin’s not a very good mover at this point in his career, some might argue he never was. I remember being at the Combine when he ran a 4.72 40. He was never a fast receiver. Crabtree would not be viewed as fast either, but he’s faster than Boldin.
Q: Do you think the 49ers still need a deep-threat wide receiver?
COSELL: In an ideal world, I think every time would like that guy. Is it a need? Can they not get back to the Super Bowl unless they get that guy? No, I don’t think that’s the case at all.
Q: They’re hoping A.J. Jenkins turns into something.
COSELL: I liked him coming out. He’s not a true burner, either, although he’s probably a faster athlete on the field than Crabtree or Boldin.
Q: What kind of player is Ed Reed these days? Is he a diminished player from his hay day?
COSELL: Without question, and I think that’s one reason he was way down the list for the Ravens as far as re-signing players that are free agents. He was probably the last guy they were interested in signing because he’s not the same player. Now, does that mean he can’t give you a year at relatively quality play? He could probably do that. But if they were to sign him and people are thinking they’re getting the Ed Reed of three, four, five years ago, I think they’d be mistaken.
Q: So what can he do at this point?
COSELL: He’s a pass defender. In his prime, he was the best single-high safety, range safety in pro football, and he’ll be in the Hall of Fame because of that. He was unbelievable at understanding route combination based on alignments of receivers. He would move before the quarterback threw the ball. He was incredibly smart, really understood formations and what we call receivers distribution and location, and really broke on the ball very, very well with phenomenal hands to make interceptions.
Now, he’s not exactly the same player in terms of physical ability. Certainly, mentally he’s the same player, but in terms of physical reaction time, he’s not quite the same player.
Q: The 49ers are reportedly interested in free agent cornerback Sean Smith. What do you think of him?
COSEL: He’s good, but he’s not great. You have to remember in today’s NFL, corner is a premium position. If the Miami Dolphins felt this kid was a great corner, he would not have hit the market.
He’s a big, physical kid. He does not have great movement. He doesn’t run that well, but in this market he may be the best corner out there. Because of his size, he gives you some options that you wouldn’t have if you had a 5-11 corner.
I think that the Niners probably feel they need an upgrade in an ideal world over Tarell Brown. We’ll see if Sean Smith is that guy.