And then he gave up the information, especially on new Ravens cornerback Shareece Wright, a former 49er.
“I mean, when you have a guy on your team for that long, you get to see him every day in practice, you understand his weaknesses as well as his strengths,” Boldin said. “We saw some things on film that we thought we could take advantage.”
And they did, and so have other receivers who have gone against the Ravens this season, but it was special to Boldin and fellow 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith.
They are both former Ravens, the tandem who helped lead the Ravens to their Super Bowl XLVII title. They are two that got away, both salary cap casualties who ended up with San Francisco.
Boldin was traded to San Francisco after the Super Bowl season, part of coach John Harbaugh's attempt to cleanse the team of players with strong — and sometimes difficult — personalities.
Smith left after last season when the Ravens never made him a significant offer. He eventually signed a 5-year, $40 million contract with the 49ers.
And on Sunday, they came up big for San Francisco against their old teammates. Smith had three catches for 96 yards including a 76-yard bomb for a touchdown in the second quarter. He put a beauty of a double move on Wright and caught the pass in stride down the right sideline.
Boldin had five catches for 102 yards, including a 51-yard reception early in the fourth period to set up what proved to be the game-winning touchdown with 10:59 left in the game.
It was a vintage Boldin performance, the kind he was known for in the 2012 postseason. When the Ravens needed a catch in clutch situations, Boldin delivered. He and quarterback Joe Flacco carried the Ravens in that postseason.
Nothing has changed for him in San Francisco.
“Any time I have an opportunity, I feel like it's my job to make a play,” Boldin said. “I'm not here for nothing. Definitely, in critical times, I feel like the team looks to me as one of the guys that need to make a play.”
“You can't even measure what he means to our football team,” 49ers fullback Bruce Miller said. “The leadership and the way that he plays on that football field, you have the utmost respect for the way he carries himself. We're glad to have him.”
The Ravens could use another tough, hard-nosed receiver to complement Steve Smith Sr. They could also use Torrey Smith, who flashed Sunday the missing element in this offense.
The Ravens don't have any speed, a player who can take the top off the defense. Torrey Smith had his share of drops during his four years in Baltimore, but opposing teams always had to respect his speed.
When he caught the long pass against Wright, it was like old times except Smith was in red and gold. He had the Ravens on their toes all day.
“Yeah, it's the Ravens,” Smith said of drawing single coverage. “They're going to trust themselves. They have guys who can do it. That was a double move. I was able to beat him, able to catch it and then I was in the end zone.”
Was it special because it was against his old team?
“I've said all week it really wasn't a big deal,” Smith said. “I still feel that way even when the game is over with. It was cool to see a lot of people that mean a lot to me, both on and off the field. It was special to see them. It was weird to look across and know that I was competing against them. But, I'm all out west now.”
The Ravens thought they had a replacement for Smith when they selected Breshad Perriman out of Central Florida in the first round of the NFL draft last spring. But Perriman hasn't taken a snap in a regular-season game all year because of a knee injury.
The Ravens thought they had possession-type receivers such as Boldin this season in Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown, but neither has been consistent.
They weren't factors until late in the game Sunday, when the Ravens had to pass. Aiken had three catches for 22 yards and Brown had one for nine. Neither could deliver the big blows like Smith or Boldin.
“We trust Torrey's ability to make those plays down the field,” San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “He made a great play. You put the ball up 99 times out of a 100, he [Boldin] is going to come down with it. That gives you great confidence as a quarterback to put one up and give him that opportunity.”
It used to be that way when they were Ravens, but not any longer. They re-surfaced again Sunday, only against them. It's ironic that the pair who once put life in the Ravens' passing game pretty much put an end to their season.