Up until Michael Crabtree signed with the 49ers, and leading up to his first game, Michael Crabtree received a ton of coverage here at Niners Nation. Since then, he has been producing at a very solid rate for a rookie. Maybe he won't win rookie of the year, but clearly he's a good receiver, and could be on his way to becoming a special receiver. It's obviously too soon to project him to Canton, but he's definitely made a good start for himself, and he's deserving of a little more front page love than he's been getting.
I was watching the CSN Bay Area post game show and they rolled out an interesting statistic. Since the merger, the top four rookie receivers have been:
Jerry Rice: 16 games (4 starts) - 49 receptions, 927 yards, 3 touchdowns
Michael Crabtree: 10 games (10 starts) - 45 receptions, 567 yards, 2 touchdowns
Terrell Owens:16 games (10 starts) - 35 receptions, 520 yards, 4 touchdowns
J.J. Stokes: 12 games (2 starts) - 38 receptions, 517 yards, 4 touchdowns
While Stokes took a step backwards his second season (injury issues), Rice exploded for 86 receptions, 1,570 yards and 15 touchdowns. Terrell Owens jumped to 60 receptions, 936 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Crabtree has shown plenty of skills but has not had that monstrous game that really puts him on the national map. People know who he is and talk about him, but he hasn't turned himself into weekly appointment viewing like some of the bigger names in the league. I'm not saying we've got the next Andre Johnson or Randy Moss on our hands, but the talent is undeniable. The coming offseason will be all the more unbearable since we'll have to wait close to 8 months to see whether or not Crabtree will be making the leap next season.