Hopefully this post won't get me issued any "Warnings" since it's totally unrelated to the 2011 Draft, Alex Smith, or anything else someone can deem 'incriminating'. :)
I don't know about the rest of the 49er Faithful out there, but WR Michael Crabtree is one of my favorite players on the team (After Patrick Willis and Vernon Davis). In the 2009 season, Crab garnered 48 Recs, 625 yds and 2 td's in 11 starts. Those numbers showed significant improvement in 2010 as he posted 55 recs, 741 yds and 6 tds in 15 starts. Most would say that this is a good leap, but I know that he can do much better. I've been keeping a close eye on Crab since he was drafted 10th overall by the 49ers in the 2009 draft, both his on-field and off-field actions, and here are three things that in MY OPINION can improve his game significantly in 2011.
1. Participate in Preseason
Crabtree has yet to play in a preseason campaign, and as displayed in that horrendous game against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1 of last season, he could've used some much needed preseason playing time to "shake the rust off". Sure preseason is meaningless towards records, but it gets players into the grove and speed of the upcoming season for the mere fact that so many young talents are playing their absolute hardest to make the team. Crabtree could benefit from such competition and repitition.
2. Develop a strong relationship with the starting QB (whoever that'll be)
Crabtree had a little bit of an upside in having Alex Smith step in for Shaun Hill mid-season of 2009 because then 2nd-stringer Alex Smith was the main QB who brought Crab up to speed once he finally ended his hold-out. This upcoming season, I highly doubt that there'll be any doubt on who will be the starting QB once we acquire 'him'. Coach Jim Harbaugh will more than likely designate his starting QB early on, especially if he obtains a vet like Donovan McNabb or Carson Palmer. A first-round selection of a QB would ideally be a start as well. It's very rare that a QB gets drafted high in the first round and not start that upcoming season. It won't be enough for Crab to just attend 'practices'. He needs to show initiative and work ethic by pulling that QB aside and working on their relationship at every waking possibility. Crab has already stated that he wants to be a top receiver in the league next year. Well buddy, the greatest ones work tirelessly.
3. Knock on Jerry Rice's door and beg him to show him the ways
Speaking of the greatest ones, Jerry Rice is undoubtedly the greatest WR of all time. Fortunately for Crabtree, Rice still resides in the Bay Area and (believe it or not) STILL works out every single day as if he were still in the NFL! This is just a glimpse of the kind of work ethic Rice put in to football during his 20 year career. Crab wants to be the best? Then learn from the best! I have no doubt that Rice wouldn't mind tutoring Crab and showing him the little intricacies to help make him a dominant receiver. I would actually love for Rice to tutor ALL of our receivers during training camp but that's unlikely. Crab is gonna have to do this outside of practices. If he did, we could just sit back and watch him blossom before our very eyes.
Crabtree is an average receiver if you go by the numbers, but those numbers are on the rise. I hope to see great things from him in the 2011 season!