Two of the toughest offseason decisions the Ravens have had to make in recent years were trading Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers and watching a true Raven, Torrey Smith, walk through free agency's doors this offseason.
On Sunday in San Francisco, Smith and Boldin drove the dagger even deeper.
The two former Ravens turned 49ers had a combined eight catches for 198 yards and a touchdown. They made the big plays the Ravens have lacked for much of the season on offense.
Smith hauled in a 76-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give the 49ers an early 13-3 lead. Boldin hauled in a 51-yard pass to set up a score in the fourth quarter, helping the 49ers take a 25-13 lead.
San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick wasn't even planning on hitting so many big plays. Kaepernick averaged 21.25 yards per pass completion on Sunday.
"We actually thought we'd have more success with the intermediate routes," he said.
Smith and Boldin's big plays were vintage examples of what they used to bring to Baltimore.
In Smith's case, it was also an example of exactly what the Ravens have sorely been missing this season with first-round rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman (the man drafted to replace Smith) sidelined by a long-lasting knee injury.
Smith hit an out-and-up double move on cornerback Shareece Wright. Once Smith got behind him, it was over. Nobody was going to catch Smith as he galloped into the end zone. The 76-yard score was a career long for Smith.
"We felt like we had good matchups all the way across the board, and we wanted to try to take advantage of it," Smith said.
San Francisco Head Coach Jim Tomsula said the out-and-up route was something the 49ers drew up specifically for Smith. Before Chris Givens arrived before Week 5's game, the Ravens didn't even have a target to draw up plays like that for.
"We trust Torrey's ability to make those plays down the field," Tomsula said.
While Boldin isn't a speed threat, he provided an instant reminder of the physical target he was in Baltimore. The Ravens now have another player in that mold with Steve Smith Sr., but Boldin has his own unique, bruising style.
Boldin bounced off tacklers for a 15-yard gain on the 49ers' first play of the game. He caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage and got 18 yards after the catch. Boldin took another short pass 26 yards (19 after the catch) in the third quarter, setting up a 49ers field goal.
Boldin's biggest play was a 51-yard catch in the fourth quarter when the game was still hanging in the balance. Boldin fought off cornerback Jimmy Smith to haul in a tough catch on a broken play. It put the 49ers on Baltimore's 25-yard line and set up a big touchdown to put San Francisco ahead, 25-13.
"Anytime I have an opportunity, I feel like it's my job to make a play," Boldin said. "I'm not just here for nothing. Definitely, in critical times, I feel like the team looks to me as one of the guys that needs to make a play. Step up and make a play at that time. So, I've always felt that way."
Boldin made a number of those plays in Baltimore, particularly down the playoffs stretch to Super Bowl XLVII. Boldin had 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns during that four-game stretch, including six grabs for 104 yards and a score against the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
"Anytime the ball's up and Anquan has a chance at it, you got to believe that he's going to come down with it," Torrey Smith said.
"You can't even measure what [Boldin] means to our football team," added 49ers fullback Bruce Miller. "Like you said, the leadership and the way that he plays on that football field, you just have the utmost respect for the way he carries himself. We're glad to have him."
Torrey Smith entered the week saying the game against the Ravens didn't mean anything extra to him, which is hard to believe. After beating his former teammates, he didn't change his mind.
He said Sunday's win doesn't take away how special his time was in Baltimore, but he is thankful to the 49ers for signing him this offseason after the Ravens let him hit the market.
"It was cool to see a lot of people that mean a lot to me, both on and off the field," Torrey Smith said. "It was special to see them. It was weird to look across and know that I was competing against them. But, I'm all in out West."