What We Know
Michael Crabtree could be seeing playing time for the San Francisco 49ers, possibly as early as this weekend(but probably not since he was just recently cleared to practice). If this is the case, a much needed cog in the machine that is the 49ers offense could begin to turn again. Just a season ago, Crabtree posted the best numbers of his career, an impressive 85 receptions for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns. With his highest yearly numbers in each stat category by a significant margin, 2012 found Crabtree a formidable third-down target and a very welcome addition to the passing game. It seemed like no matter what, whenever 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick needed outstanding play, the young wide receiver was always an open target or at least a viable target. Crabtree played like a man in 2012. He absorbed hits like never before, thrived in tough situations and dared defensive players to come after him. This is the play the 49ers need desperately to re-ignite the offense that helped the team reach the Super Bowl earlier this year.
Realistically, I can’t help but think his numbers this year will be somewhere around those he had in his rookie year. After an injury like a torn Achilles tendon, I can’t help but assume the level of play we saw in 2012 will take some time to reach. If the 49ers go deep into the postseason, I would expect his level of play to increase. Keeping in mind the regular season has only six more games, here’s my prediction:
–29 receptions, 315 yards and 3 TD’s
Sort of sad, I know. I’d like it to be a little higher, I just can’t bring myself to hope for anything approaching 500 yards. But there’s a silver lining to my prediction.
Through 10 games, the 49ers third, fourth and fifth receiving options have amassed just 36 receptions for 398 yards. Average another 63 passing yards per game and the absolutely horrible passing attack finds it’s way into the top half of the league. Barely. Fortunately this, coupled with the run game and fantastic defensive play, is probably enough to win against just about any opponent in the league right now when the game plan is good.