Although wide receiver Michael Crabtree never really lived up to the hype of being the 10th overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, he was integral in two of the 49ers’ deep playoff runs. Need verification on how impactful Crabtree was? Look no further than the 2012 Super Bowl run. That season, he tallied career highs and touchdowns with an 85-reception, 1,105-yard and nine-touchdown regular season.
That postseason, Crabtree totaled 285 yards and three touchdowns in three games, while seemingly dominating after the catch. Although injuries somewhat slowed his career in San Francisco, Crabtree was dominant when healthy under Harbaugh.
San Francisco 49ers
EDGE Aldon Smith was flat-out ridiculous when he was not in the doghouse.
For one, Smith was Harbaugh’s first first-rounder. Secondly, Aldon Smith was the scariest rookie pass-rusher the NFL has seen in decades. Recall he was drafted in the same draft as Von Miller and J.J. Watt and looked much more dominant as a pass-rusher after years one and two.
This much is obvious when noting his 33.5 sacks in his first 32 games (16 starts). Just thinking about Smith should bring any 49ers fan a range of emotions. He was the most dominant player to suit up for the team in years but allowed his personal choices to slow what could have been a Hall of Fame career.
I felt almost obligated to put linebacker NaVorro Bowman in my top five, considering how dominant he was in Harbaughs first three seasons. But due to injury and the loaded amount of talent in this group, Bowman was left off the list.
In Bowman’s first three years with Harbaugh, he had 327 tackles, three picks, nine sacks and a ridiculous seven forced fumbles. His most stacked year was in 2013 when he was in consideration for Defensive Player of the Year. In 2013, he boasted a stat line of 120 tackles, five sacks, six forced fumbles (not a typo), two picks and a touchdown.
Bowman is, and always has been very good at football, and it all started with Harbaugh.