I was curious about how much the loss of Crabtree really affects our team. After all, an elite passing game hasn’t been the key to our success over the last couple of years. With the addition of Boldin and the progression of our younger receivers, should we be too concerned about losing Crabtree, if it's just until December? I would argue that losing Crabtree for the first part of the season is actually a good thing for us long-term. This will give practice reps to some of the younger players, allow them to get valuable game snaps, and force Kaep to get better at distributing the ball. By December, our younger receivers will have gotten some good experience, so Crabtree coming back will make our offense scary. With a strengthened passing offense, the Niners are even more dominant than they would have been without a Crabtree injury.
To get a slightly different take on things, I took a look at PFF’s numbers for last year to see what they say. I made a spreadsheet for each teams roster for this year. I then assigned each player their PFF Overall score from last year. I accounted for this year’s rookies by averaging last year’s rookies by starter, backup, and “rarely saw the field”.
The first PFF table below shows the total sum of last year’s PFF ratings for all the players on each roster. The BC and AC columns are Before Crabtree and After Crabtree. You can see that losing Crabtree costs us 20 PFF points, but doesn’t change the strength of team order.
A big concern is that last year’s performance doesn’t guarantee future returns. Just because a player was good one year, doesn’t mean they won’t have a down year. But, with so much stability in the Niner’s environment, I feel like instead of regressing, most everyone will progress instead.
Another concern is that some positions are more important than others, so you can’t really just add everyone up and say, “this is team “A’s” strength. The second spreadsheet places values on each position, by starters and backups, and then adds them up. Here we take a little bit more of a hit, but still remain a top 3 team.
Loosing Crabtree is going to make games a little more difficult, but, if the Niners show up every game, they should still be dominant.