Last week, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh got some tongues wagging when he stated that Michael Crabtree had the best hands of any wide receiver Coach Harbaugh had been around. Naturally, the media followed up on this at their first opportunity. The 49ers have closed off practices for much of the offseason, but Coach Harbaugh took some time to answer questions this past week.
You mentioned on the radio how Michael Crabtree had the best hands you've ever seen. I think that was the phrasing. Is that literal, that Michael Crabtree has the best hands out of any receiver you've ever been around?
"Yes, yes. He's got tremendous hands."
Have you noticed that especially lately, or are you saying it from last year too that he's got the best hands you've ever seen?
"Well, the comment stands on its own merit. I know you guys have dissected it about every which way it can be dissected. But, it is literal. It is literal fact, what I believe as I see it and believe it to be."
That qualifies as a fairly solid confirmation of Coach Harbaugh's thoughts on the matter.
Alex Smith was also available to the media this past week, and he had rave reviews for Crabtree. There is still a lot of offseason to go, but for now, Crabtree appears as healthy as he has been in his time with the 49ers. I say there is still a lot of offseason to go because I'd really like to avoid getting the blame if he goes down with an injury. For now though, it's exciting times at OTAs. As per Smith:
"He's healthy, and I think he's excited about that. I think he's feeling really good. You come out and watch and he's running better than he ever has since I've seen him. Running really well out here, making plays. It's exciting to see.
"I know a lot of the new faces get a lot of the attention, but he's doing really well here."
The health issue has been quite prominent for Crabtree, and getting a healthy Crab could do wonders for the 49ers passing game, and Crabtree's stats. In the article linked above, Eric Branch took a look at Crabtree's numbers over the final 11 games of 2011 (61 receptions, 742 yards, four touchdowns), and compared them to some of the more prominent receivers in the league. Each player has their own context to consider, but his numbers showed a player taking a step forward.
The passing game has plenty of work in front of it as we move into 2012. But with Crabtree's showing the final 11 games of the regular season and Vernon Davis' playoff outburst, the returning weapons on this offense will have plenty to say about the offense in 2012. Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and LaMichael James could add some serious clout, but let's not forget to improving, returning weapons.