The most under the radar news for the 49ers recently is that Michael Crabtree has not been on the injury report. After spending the first three months of the season limited in practice, the last two weeks have seen absent from the report. Crabtree even said after the 49ers win over the Rams that this was the first time he has been 100% healthy this season.
Ever since Crabtree's rookie season, there has been plenty of debate as to what he brings to the table. Some folks grew frustrated with him very quickly, others were just bewildered, and as with any player, some folks stuck with him through thick and thin. Whichever group you fell into, we all now can enjoy the benefits of Michael Crabtree.
As the 49ers prepare to face the Cardinals this weekend, we can look back on Crabtree's strong performance against Arizona three weeks ago. He hauled in seven passes for 120 yards and at times had his way with rookie cornerback, Patrick Peterson. I suspect we will see Peterson matched up again with Crabtree, in what should be a really fun matchup to watch all game long.
Now in his third season, Michael Crabtree has a shot at 1,000 receiving yards and will likely surpass career highs in several categories, including catches and yards. He and Alex Smith appear to be developing a much better chemistry on the field and appear to be enjoying themselves on the sidelines after big plays. Winning can help that, but also simply having a chance to work together consistently on the practice field is so important.
Michael Crabtree is immensely talented and showed during his rookie season how quickly he could step in and make plays. However, getting a chance to work consistently in full first team reps with Alex Smith takes it to another level. The 49ers are still trying to figure out their offense and really are only scratching the surface considering the fact that they have been basically implementing it on the fly. As solid as Smith-to-Crabtree has looked lately, I can't even begin to imagine what we might see in 2012.