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49ers-Raiders: Michael Crabtree versus Darrius Heyward-Bey

A year and a half ago, the Oakland Raiders shocked some folks when they selected WR Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh overall pick of the NFL Draft.

This decision was arguably the biggest reason Michael Crabtree ended up with the San Francisco 49ers.


And now for the first time since that draft, the 49ers and Raiders, and thus Michael Crabtree and Darrius Heyward-Bey meet on the field in a game with actual significance. At the time Michael Crabtree expressed some sense of relief not to be going to the Raiders. Although we're well past the 2009 draft, Crabtree has made it known that he is particularly excited about this matchup since the Raiders elected to pass on him.

There have been grumblings among 49ers fans about Crabtree's performance early this season, but the last couple weeks he's come back out of his shell to become a force all over the field for the team. The offense is slowly figuring things out and Crabtree has been a big part of that lately. The Raiders pass defense was absolutely lit up last week by Philip Rivers and the Chargers, and I'd imagine Michael Crabtree has to be licking his lips about this matchup.

On the other side you've got DHB who has shown some improvement but has certainly not had the same type of early performance as Crabtree. It's not his fault the Raiders picked him ahead of Crabtree (well it's his own fault he's so fast!), but he'll be stuck as a comparison with Crabtree for the rest of his career.

Ninjames wrote about the draft issue over at SBNBA and Rich Langford followed it up with a particularly informative post on how the Raiders might look to cover Crabtree this Sunday. If the Raiders leave Nnamdi Asomugha on Crabtree all game long that could certainly be the most intriguing matchup to watch.

However much time Nnamdi is covering Crabtree, do we think Crabtree can break out against one of the top cover corners in the league? Will Crabtree emerge with the stronger performance than DHB? DHB has had one strong game, one middle game, and three poor performances. It's probably a stupid question to be asking, but I might as well ask. I guess the more important question is whether Crabtree will blow up on the team that passed on him in 2009.