Player A has been targeted 26 times in his past four games, catching 14 passes for 179 yards and no TDs.
Player B has been targeted 23 times in his past four games, catching 13 passes for 239 yards and no TDs.
Player A is Anquan Boldin, whom the Ravens traded to the San Francisco 49ers during the offseason. Tandon Doss, the player the Ravens drafted -- and re-signed -- to be Boldin’s replacement, is Player B.
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I am not presenting these two stat lines to suggest the 3-4 Ravens don’t miss Boldin. But they are finally getting the kind of production they had hoped to get from Doss when they drafted him in the fourth round two years ago. Meanwhile, Boldin, who is making $6 million this season, is not presently providing the 49ers bang for their buck.
After being cut before the season opener and brought back a week later, Doss has earned a significant role as the Ravens' third wide receiver over the past several weeks.
He has operated out of the slot on 81.9 percent of his snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, and he has actually been targeted slightly more frequently than teammate Torrey Smith as quarterback Joe Flacco has targeted Doss on 19.8 percent of his routes. His 2.06 yards per route run aren't far behind Smith, the team's leading receiver.
Doss showed his teammates something in the 19-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers when he took a hard hit from Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu while making a chain-moving catch on third down. After the game, Doss joked that he thankfully saw Polamalu’s hair before the hit or he might have been totally blindsided on the play.
He has to get his jaw rattled a few hundred more times to catch up with Boldin, who may be pound for pound the NFL’s toughest receiver. But it was a big moment for a young receiver who did not finish off plays in the past.
As for Boldin, he was never really consumed by numbers, which didn’t always tell the story of how valuable he was to the Ravens. So he probably cares more that his 49ers are 6-2 through eight weeks than he does about his declining production since Week 1, when he made 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown in his 49ers debut.
Still, comparing his stat line over the past four games to the one that Doss has produced in his last four is pretty interesting. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.