2011 49ers Predictions: Michael Crabtree's Third Year

Yesterday, Football Outsiders put together a list for ESPN running down the Top 10 NFL Draft steals that ended up being "failures." The list included JJ Stokes at the number four position. I'm not sure I'd qualify him as a draft day steal but I also wasn't following the NFL quite so closely back then so maybe him going at ten was a surprise. In response to the inclusion of Stokes, Mike Sando put together a short piece on Michael Crabtree who was categorized as a draft day steal.

Through 27 games, Crabtree's numbers are actually quite similar to Stokes' numbers. Crabtree has 103 receptions for 1,366 receptions and 8 touchdowns. Stokes had 101 receptions for 1,330 yards  and 8 touchdowns. The difference between the two is that Crabtree's 27 games were through two full seasons (minus the holdout) while Stokes' 27th game came near the end of his third season.

Sando made the comment that "[t]he next couple of seasons will determine whether Crabtree breaks out on another trajectory." That's not exactly a shocking conclusion but given the similarity of numbers it's an easy one to make. I actually would say they're not even necessarily on the same trajectory given the difference in where each player was at in their respective careers.

All of this is basically to get me to the point of this post. I'm curious what kind of numbers people expect from Crabtree in 2011, assuming he plays 16 regular season games. In his 11-game rookie campaign, he had 48 receptions for 625 yards and two touchdowns. In his second season, a full 16 games, he had 55 receptions for 741 yards and six touchdowns. I realize a possibly truncated training camp could have a big impact on performances across the board, particularly for the 49ers with a new offense. If your number reflects a significant impact by the screwy training schedule, let me know.

If I were to make a prediction based on little more than a shot in the dark, I'd go with 67 receptions for 951 yards and 8 touchdowns. The receptions is just a boost from last year and I took his first two years averages and boosted them just a little bit based on a more efficient offense. Feel free to bookmark this and laugh at me in six months.

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