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New faces, new places marks start of NFL season

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POSTED September 18, 2013 2:16 a.m.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Alex Smith is still winning in red. He’s just doing it for the Chiefs these days.

Mike Wallace is finally happy in Miami, Anquan Boldin is making everyone happy in San Francisco, and that’s just the start of the new faces in new places making a splash this season.

Wes Welker went from hauling in passes from Tom Brady in New England to doing the same from Peyton Manning in Denver — how’d he get so lucky? Steven Jackson’s legs are churning in Atlanta, Darrelle Revis is defending passes in Tampa Bay and Elvis Dumervil is putting heat on quarterbacks for Baltimore after a bizarre end to his time with the Broncos.

The 49ers acquired Boldin from the Ravens for a sixth-round pick, and he’s helped them overcome the loss of Michael Crabtree to a torn Achilles tendon. Boldin was shut down last week by Seattle, but had 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown in a Week 1 win over the Packers.

“It’s my job to catch the ball. And anytime (Kaepernick) throws the ball my way, I’m going to make sure to catch it,” Boldin said. “For me, it’s a business. I come out to do my job.”

After Smith was benched in favor of Colin Kaepernick during San Francisco’s NFC championship run last year, he began looking elsewhere to play this season. The 49ers worked a trade in February to send him to Kansas City, and now Smith is running the offense for new coach Andy Reid.

He’s doing it well, too. Smith has thrown four touchdown passes without an interception in beating Jacksonville and Dallas, matching the Chiefs’ entire win total from last season.

“From about mid-season last year I was thinking about where my next opportunity was potentially going to come,” Smith said, “and when this presented itself, I jumped at it.”

He wasn’t alone in jumping on the Chiefs bandwagon.

Reid climbed aboard after 14 seasons leading the Eagles, and veteran defensive backs Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson were signed in free agency. Together, they’ve helped turn around a franchise that heads to Philadelphia on Thursday night seeking its second 3-0 start in a decade.

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