There are so many things to write about the 49ers win over the Packers, but one thing I wanted to talk about tonight is Michael Crabtree. If not for Michael Crabtree, the San Francisco 49ers are likely leaving Green Bay with an L. And that's assuming they would have made it to this game in the first place.
Michael Crabtree missed the first three months of the season rehabbing the Achilles he tore back in late May. He returned in early December, and he has galvanized this offense. Colin Kaepernick made plays during Crabtree's absence, but the return of the receiver has been key in boosting Kap's play the last month. Kap's numbers are up across the board since Crabtree's return.
In Sunday's win, Crabtree finished with eight receptions for 125 yards. Each week, Crabtree has looked better and better, and today, he really looked like pre-injury Crabtree. In the early going back in December, you could see he was missing a step. Speed has never been his game, but it was clear he was a little bit slower. Of course, having missed so much time, that should surprise nobody. He has worked himself back into form and we saw him blow up against the Packers.
After the game, Jim Harbaugh had another one of his legendary quotations:
"People talked about cold weather and it would be a tough to catch ball, but the greatest catcher of all time, Michael Crabtree, catches everything.It's unbelievable. In the northern snowlands down to the tropics and sunny scenes, he's catching the football. Wherever they throw a football, he'll be catching it. If my life depended on it and someone had to catch a ball, I'd enlist Michael Crabtree to do it."
While Jerry Rice remains G.O.A.T. in every way, Michael Crabtree really is looking like an all-time great when it comes to his hands and feet. His footwork is unbelievable, and as we saw tonight, get a pass near him, and he'll haul it in. Kaepernick looked his way early and often, and even when he was off the mark with his passes, Crabtree was able to adjust and make the play.
The 49ers advance to the second round, and they are as dangerous as anybody in this postseason tournament. They face a grueling path if they want to bring home Lombardi No. 6, but you could argue the receiving weapons at Kap's disposal is at an all-time high. He's got Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. We saw Frank Gore get in the mix, as well as Anthony Dixon. It'd be nice to see more from Vance McDonald and Quinton Patton, but compared to previous seasons, the pantry is darn near full with weapons.
As the 49ers prepare to face a tough, tough Panthers squad, these weapons will be key. The 49ers were without Crabtree against Carolina in Week 10, and Vernon Davis suffered a concussion during the game. This 49ers offense is at a different level than it was at that point. The 49ers still need to go out and execute, but the talent is there to continue on. There are some things to learn from this game, and maybe Greg Roman & Co. will have a few more tricks in the bag when they travel down to Charlotte next week.
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