49ers Michael Crabtree Dances on Cardinals for 120 Yards

Against the division rival Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree broke out for 120 yards in a 23-7 victory to bring the team to 9-1. The receiver had 7 grabs on the day, and the notable ones went for 38, 29 and 15 yard gains. In week 11, Crabtree averaged 17.1 yards per catch and at times, made the Cardinals defense look simply foolish.

On the play that went for 38-yards, Crabtree put a move on rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson on a go-route. Alex Smith was able to loft a perfect pass for a big chunk of yardage, but an impressive route by Crabtree made it happen.

There was a 29-yard gain that was even more because of the third year receiver. Crabtree was able to take a catch on a stop route for almost another 20 yards, zigging in and out of Arizona defenders. What's been impressive about Crabtree's game has been his ability to make a play after he has the ball.

I believe that the reason Crabtree fits this offense so well is because of his ball skills, physicality and YAC ability. But now, the former first rounder is showing us that he can make plays all over the field, including going deep. There was another play where Crabtree lined up to the right and was wide open on a go-route in the end zone and Smith just missed him. I like that Crabtree was there though; I took note that he did his job.

And like we've seen in many 49ers players from last year to this year, is the progression. It seems that Crabtree is one of many Niners that has and continues to develop in this offense, as a player and as a man. I think Jim Harbaugh has taken note of that too, as many of Sunday's plays were designed for Crabtree.

The opening drive was actually heavy on the Smith-Crabtree connection until it stalled when a 2nd and 6 became a 2nd and 11 on a penalty. But Crabtree looked to be much a part of Harbaugh's gameplan to defeat the Cardinals. And it wasn't necessarily getting him in the end zone, but chewing up much of mid-field to get our offense in scoring position.

"I thought Michael Crabtree, first of all, got us really going as an offense," coach Harbaugh said in his post-game conference. He proved to be a reliable target because the extra effort he seemed to be putting into each play -- being aggressive before the catch, during the catch and after the catch.

In terms of the future, I like the way Braylon Edwards and Michael Crabtree compliment one another with their skill sets. With both of them playing at a high level week to week, they could potentially become one of the more feared wide receiver tandems in the next couple years. But Crabtree needs to continue to develop and be consistent. Last week against the Giants, he had only one catch for 21 yards.

This year, Crabtree has 38 catches for 455 yards; he is 2nd on the 49ers in catches to Vernon Davis (39) and 1st in receiving yards. Crabtree has been held out of the end zone for the most part this season, but that hasn't effected the 49ers win-loss column too much. He has only 1 touchdown on the season, although there were a couple controversial calls that should make it 2 or 3 scores instead.

Crabtree will have his opportunity to get in the end zone on Thanksgiving Day when the 49ers visit Baltimore to face the Ravens in the Harbowl. San Francisco will be counting on his contributions as this is another huge test for the Niners. The Ravens are a regular playoff team and the kind of test they present could be a huge character builder if the 49ers capitalize on the opportunity.

Time will tell. We'll look to see if Crabtree can step up two weeks in a row with big performances.

Follow me on Twitter: @DeSimone80

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