SANTA CLARA (AP) — With so much talent returning on defense, several San Francisco 49ers players have taken advantage of an intriguing new resource in training camp.
That being Anquan Boldin.
The versatile wide receiver said Friday that curiosity has simmered from his defensive teammates about how opponents scheme against the unit since he joined the 49ers this offseason. And nobody in practice might know better than Boldin, who caught six passes for 104 yards and a touchdown to help the Baltimore Ravens beat San Francisco 34-31 in the Super Bowl.
“A lot of guys came up to me and asked me, ‘What did the scouting report have on it? What did it say?’” Boldin said. “Things like that. I’ve had a chance to communicate that to guys.”
While he’s not going to make those schemes public knowledge, Boldin has passed along that information to teammates while doing his own job catching passes from Colin Kaepernick. Picking Boldin’s brain for ideas is just one of many ways the 49ers defense — among the NFL’s best the past two seasons — is trying to improve from within.
The departures of All-Pro safety Dashon Goldson and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga left the most glaring vacancies to fill among the starting unit. At the other nine positions, San Francisco still seems stacked.
The 49ers ranked third in total defense (294.4 yards), fourth in yards rushing allowed (94.2) and fourth in yards passing allowed per game (200.2) last season. The unit still had flaws, though, most notably going from No. 1 in takeaways (38) two years ago to No. 6 (25) in the league last season.
One of the tidbits Boldin revealed publicly about scheming against the 49ers is that the Ravens were particularly concerned about how much talent San Francisco had throughout its defense — that there wasn’t just one or two players to scheme against. Baltimore spread the 49ers out, particularly in the first half, allowing Boldin to run through pockets over the middle and force NaVorro Bowman and fellow All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis to chase faster receivers and tight ends.
Rodgers lied to by Braun
Ryan Braun apparently has some work to do to repair his friendship with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers said Braun “looked at me in the eye on multiple occasions and repeatedly denied the allegations” that the Milwaukee Brewers slugger was using performance-enhancing drugs. Braun this week accepted a season-ending 65-game suspension after admitting to violating baseball’s rules against using PEDs. Rodgers felt duped by his buddy and business associate. A Milwaukee restaurant is named for two of the state’s most well-known athletes, and Rodgers last year defended his friend on Twitter, going so far as to betting his multimillion-dollar salary that Braun was clean. “It doesn’t feel great being lied to like that,” Rodgers said, “and I’m disappointed about the way it all went down.”
D.J. Hayden was back out on the practice field taking part in individual drills and even covering receivers in a few 11-on-11 sessions. The main thing setting the Oakland Raiders rookie cornerback apart from the rest of his teammates when training camp opened was the color of his jersey. Instead of wearing the usual black jersey for the defense, Hayden was in a red one designated usually for quarterbacks as he works his way back from a near-fatal injury that cut his college career short and offseason surgery that kept him out of most minicamps and organized team activities.
Chiefs sign No. 1 pick
The Kansas City Chiefs agreed to terms with No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher on Friday, ensuring that the big right tackle out of Central Michigan will be in training camp. Sources say the contract will be for five years and is expected to be in the $22 million range