When San Francisco 49ers WR Michael Crabtree slid to the Niners with the 10th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, no one was happier than me. I had scouted him the previous two years at Texas Tech, and believed he would be the next 49er great. However, a lengthy hold-out blindsided the 49ers organization, leaving them without their promising young receiver. It was discouraging to see an immature kid hold-out for so long, and the media quickly pounced on the opportunity to label him a “diva.” In other words, another Terrell Owens. Crabtree then lost bargaining power five weeks into the season, as the 49ers rushed out to a 3-2 record, prompting him to agree to terms on a six-year deal, $32 million ($17 million guaranteed).
Crabtree who was already rubbing teammates the wrong way, made his NFL debut in Week 6 against the Houston Texans. It did not take long, before he would make great catch after great catch. A sure-handed receiver, Crabtree snatched everything his way, and showed why he was considered the cream of the crop in the 2009 NFL Draft. He would go on to finish the game with five catches for 56 yards. Not great stats, but when you look at the game-film, you can tell he had Pro Bowl potential written all over him.
Now entering his fifth season, Crabtree has quickly become a fan favorite (including myself). He runs great routes, has exceptional hands, and the agility to break tackles. The only knock on him would have to be his speed, as he does not have the ability to take the top off the defense. However, Crabtree has been an offensive force nonetheless, especially since QB Colin Kaepernick took over the offense.
In Crabtree’s last seven games to end the regular-season, he racked up 41 receptions, 595 yards, and five touchdowns. An even more telling stat, is that he was targeted 66 times by Kaep. Those numbers equate to a 62% completion rate between the two stars. A sign of great chemistry between the quarterback and receiver. A prime example of this was in Super Bowl XLVII, where Kaep put all his trust in Crabtree on the infamous “no holding” play in the corner of the end-zone. The two players have developed a strong bond that should only get better with time.
If you multiply Crabtree’s stats of the last seven games, you can make a case that he would have been selected to his first Pro Bowl. However, that did not happen, and that is why he was not selected.
Not this year. I believe Crabtree will flourish once again, and put up Pro Bowl numbers that will rival Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones. The former Alabama product put up great stats last year, while making his first trip to the Pro Bowl, as he had 79 receptions, 1,198 yards, and 10 touchdowns. It did not hurt that he also had Pro Bowl WR Roddy White lined up on the opposite side, something Crabtree did not have the luxury of having. Not this year, as the 49ers traded for proven veteran WR Anquan Boldin. No longer can defenses shift their focus to Crabtree, as Boldin is smart enough to break his route and find the open seam. This will help Crabtree get open more often.
Another reason why Crabtree will be a Pro Bowler in 2013, is due to his willingness to block. He may not be the best blocking receiver in the game, but he does finish his blocks, a sign of a hungry player, earning his paycheck, one play at a time. That was a huge knock on him coming out of college, and seeing him transform today into a willing blocker speaks volumes about his character. The so called “diva” has all but vanished, a great sign for the Forever Faithful. Now all that is left for Crabtree to do, is continue his maturation process as a player and show the world, “that he is indeed who we thought he was.” (Dennis Green)