Anquan Boldin Approaches 1,000-catch Milestone and Free Agency

Anquan Boldin's first NFL reception was on a 3rd-and-2 play in the first quarter of a Week 1 road matchup against the Detroit Lions on Sept. 7, 2003.

The rookie wideout for the Arizona Cardinals caught a 20-yard out pattern from quarterback Jeff Blake. Boldin went on to finish his NFL debut with 10 catches for 217 receiving yards.

Fast forward to Week 16 of Boldin's 13th NFL campaign, and the veteran wideout could very well catch his 1,000 career pass in Detroit.

Boldin, the leading receiver (59 catches, 691 receiving yards and three touchdowns) for the 2015 San Francisco 49ers, is one grab away from becoming the 13th player in league history to reach the 1,000-reception mark.

The milestone doesn't appear to be a big deal to Boldin, who commented on the subject to 49ers beat writers on Christmas Eve.

"I never had goals like that," Boldin said.

To the physical wideout, there's a good reason why wide receiver records don't mean much.

"I don't really see myself as a receiver," he said. "I don't really look at my stats."

So how does Boldin see himself?

"As a football player," the wideodut said.

Some teammates would quickly agree, especially someone like Torrey Smith who has played with Boldin for two NFL franchises.

"He's a technician, but even more so, he plays a very physical style of football," said Smith, who left the Baltimore Ravens to sign with San Francisco as a free agent. "He takes care of his body very well.

"I feel like you could put him on the d-line, and he'd be successful. Anquan can play ball. They don't make 'em like Anquan. I'm thankful I've been able to play with him. I consider him family."

Boldin wasn't quick to use the "R-word" when discussing his future with the 49ers. While 18-year veteran defensive back Charles Woodson has announced his retirement at the end of the 2015 season, Boldin has expressed that he still wants to play.

"I feel like I can play for years to come," Boldin said. "Is that my goal? No. I honestly came into this league wanting to play 10 years. Ten years flew by. I'm at this point now, but when I feel like I'm ready to give it up, I will, but right now it's not the time."

Boldin, who will be a free agent in 2016, said his technical ability has outweighed his speed on the field, which makes it very possible for him to continue playing at a high level.

"Anquan could easily play a few more years," Smith said. "We'll see what he does."

Boldin said he "definitely" wants to return to San Francisco for his 14th season in the NFL.

"I like it here," Boldin added. "I like the people here. The organization has been great to me. I love my teammates. I enjoy them. And I have roots here, a lot of relationships that I've built in this community.

"When we cross that bridge, we'll cross that bridge."

Boldin went on to admit that leaving his third NFL franchise would not be so simple.

"No matter what age you are, you want to win a championship," Boldin said. "That goes without saying.

"(But) it's deeper than that especially when you have been somewhere for a certain amount of years. You have roots."

Boldin's charitable roots run to a second consecutive nomination for the annual Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. The 49ers wideout was a finalist last season, and he could very well be in a similar spot prior to this year's announcement before Super Bowl 50.

"I'm planning on him winning it," Smith said. "If not, I'm boycotting the NFL. I'm not showing up to anything next year. … I think he should win it. What Anquan's done (in the community) is really unique and it's going to live on longer than his playing days. I think that says a lot because he's a Hall of Famer."

For now, those who enjoy watching Boldin's aggressive brand of football can take solace in watching him continue to play with tenacity, even when he's approaching milestones that he deemed meaningless.

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