San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh made a very bold statement about wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Harbaugh, who has played with or coached the likes of Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, and Marvin Harrison. Harbaugh proclaimed that Crabtree has the best hands he has ever seen. WOW
Crabtree is entering a critical season. Finally with some offensive continuity, and hopefully a healthy training camp, the 49ers need Crabs to take it to the next level. The teams leading receiver last season with 72 catches disappeared in the playoffs, especially in the NFC Championship game against the Giants.
Heaping heavy praise on a player yet to reach his potential is not common practice for Harbaugh. Typically reserved in what he says about both individual players and the team as whole to the media. Coach has also been known to go on long speals when asked to compare players. But he didn’t hesitate here and when asked about another WR, Randy Moss, Harbaugh offered the praise on Crabtree voluntarily.
This leads me to believe that it was 100% by design. Jim Harbaugh doesn’t do things spontaneously with the media. He’s not going to go say #15 is the best unless it’s going to help him in some way. Just like the praise he’s been throwing at Alex Smith since his arrival in San Francisco. Smith was and is his best option at QB for now. Just as Crabtree, despite the additions of Moss, Mario Manningham and AJ Jenkins, is his best shot at a #1 WR.
The strategy is almost identical if you look at how the organization is handling both Smith and Crabtree. Throwing praise at Smith, then drafting Colin Kaepernick, flirting with Peyton Manning and signing. Saying Crabtree has the best hands you’ve ever seen. At the same time, signing Moss, Manningham and drafting Jenkins.
This isn’t the make it or break it year for Crabtree. But this is his most aggressive push by the coaching staff. His best opportunity to shine in his career. It remains to be seen if Crabtree can put it all together and look like the player he was at Texas Tech.