SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Leave it to Charles Woodson to shut down yet another wide receiver this week, this one on the doorstep of one of the NFL's most sacred pass-catching milestones.
Thanks to the longtime Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers great's announced retirement this week, it's been hard for the San Francisco Bay Area's other team to get a sniff in the local media, let alone on a national platform.
Even when the 49ers' own Hall of Fame candidate is knocking at the door of a milestone achievement that arguably will trump any piece of individual glory Woodson has achieved in his brilliant career as a defensive back.
You might have read it here first -- and that's sad in and of itself -- but veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin needs one catch Sunday against the Detroit Lions to join just 12 others in NFL history with 1,000 career receptions.
It's a receiver's equivalent of a 3,000th hit, yet it's gotten almost no fanfare in and around the 49ers this week. Given the likable Woodson's bombshell announcement Monday, it isn't all that surprising.
Alas, there's still time. Woodson will make his final Oakland appearance Thursday night against the San Diego Chargers.
So much for any Boldin headlines Thursday or Friday.
That leaves Saturday and/or Sunday for the media focus to turn to a feat that's been achieved just one time in 49ers history, and that by the immortal Jerry Rice.
49ers coach Jim Tomsula wasn't even asked about the pending achievement at his weekly press conference Monday. And when the topic was brought up to 49ers offensive coordinator Geep Chryst on Wednesday, the best he could do was recall how Boldin didn't even start in his NFL debut against Detroit.
Leave it to Lions coach Jim Caldwell, who coached Boldin in Baltimore, to give the historic moment some life.
"Maybe one of the great competitors of all time," Caldwell told the Bay Area media in a conference call Wednesday. "The kind of drive that he has, the way he takes care of his body, his work habits, his attention to detail, his drive to be not good but great -- those guys seem to be able to play a lot longer and at a much higher level than most individuals.
"That's what makes him special."
If/when Boldin makes that first catch Sunday, he would reach 1,000 catches in 185 games, making him the fifth-fastest to achieve the feat. Only Marvin Harrison (167 games), Andre Johnson (168), Rice (181) and Larry Fitzgerald (182) have done it faster.
Boldin's first 999 receptions have accounted for 13,097 yards and 73 touchdowns.
SERIES HISTORY: 64th regular-season meeting. 49ers lead 36-26-1. The 49ers will take a nine-game winning streak in the series into Sunday's matchup, having not lost to the Lions since a 27-24 defeat in Detroit 20 years ago. The 49ers have prevailed in both their trips to Detroit since then, including 25-19 in 2011. The clubs have met once since, with San Francisco also taking that one 27-19 at home in 2012.
GAME PLAN: First things first: The 49ers will be looking to get the ball to Anquan Boldin, perhaps as early as the first play of the game. Do they want his historic catch -- his first reception will be the 1,000th of his career -- to come on something memorable like a long ball, or perhaps something as simple as a screen? Make no mistake: It has to be a topic the 49ers have discussed this week.
After that formality, the 49ers must seek to use their passing gain as a means of ball control, especially after their running game took another hit last week with Shaun Draughn hurt. In a game matching two of the league's worst running attacks, the team that passes the best -- with the least number of mistakes -- figures to prevail.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--49ers QB Blaine Gabbert vs. Lions pass rush.
The 49ers felt good about allowing only four sacks last week against Cincinnati after Gabbert was dropped nine times in Cleveland the week before. No doubt, the Lions will paint a target on his back as well. They had seven and six sacks in consecutive games earlier this season, and have recorded at least three in each of their last three games.
--49ers WRs Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith vs. Lions secondary.
Much will be made of Boldin's first catch, which will be the 1,000th of his career, but if the 49ers are to have a chance to beat the Lions, the veteran likely is going to have to catch about nine more. And sidekick Smith as well. The Saints wrote the script on how to do it on Monday night, when wideouts Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead burned the Lions for 25 total catches.
--49ers pass defense vs. Lions QB Matthew Stafford.
Stafford comes into the game as one of the league's hottest quarterbacks, having thrown 12 touchdown passes in his last four games. That's a whopping 10 more than the 49ers have allowed in their last four outings. Then again, the last two quarterbacks the 49ers faced were Johnny Manziel and AJ McCarron, so the challenge of going up against Stafford figures to be much greater.