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Free agent WR Anquan Boldin likes Lions’ Caldwell

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Anquan Boldin

The Lions laid some groundwork for their free agency plans Monday, but there’s one player who might be interested if they pursue him.

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin worked with Lions coach Jim Caldwell in Baltimore in 2012, and at the NFL Honors ceremony last month, he said he’d love to play for the coach again.

“Caldwell is probably one of the better coaches that I’ve played for,” said Boldin, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday. “I love the way he goes about his business. He’s just a great guy. I think probably every player in this league would like to play for Caldwell.”

Boldin, 35, is among the top free-agent wide receivers this year. He said he’d like to stay with the 49ers after spending the last three years with them, but as of early February, he didn’t know San Francisco’s plans.

“We’ll see how things work out,” he said.

Possible Lions free-agent targets

The Lions, meanwhile, will be looking for wide receiver help in free agency, and if Calvin Johnson retires, the need for help at the position would increase significantly.

Although Boldin’s production has decreased each of the past three years in San Francisco, he still had 69 catches for 789 yards and four touchdowns in 2015.

When Boldin was with the Ravens in 2012, Caldwell began as the team’s quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator during the season. Baltimore went on to win the Super Bowl with Boldin excelling in the postseason, posting 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns in four games.

The Ravens traded Boldin to San Francisco during the 2013 offseason, so he left before Caldwell spent the full year as Baltimore’s offensive coordinator. From their year together, Boldin said he appreciated how respectful Caldwell was, which is something Lions played have lauded the coach for the past two years.

Of course, Caldwell won’t decide which players the Lions sign in free agency, and it’s unclear if new general manager Bob Quinn would want to target a receiver who will turn 36 next season.

And if the Lions want to have Boldin involved in the replacement of Johnson, who’s still considering retirement, he knows that would be a tough task.

“Those are big shoes to fill,” Boldin said. “He’s probably one of the better receivers in this league. Plays at a high level, so those are big shoes to fill.”