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Setting Expectations for 2010: WR Michael Crabtree

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As we move through the offseason, there is plenty to discuss about the draft and free agency. However, we're still looking ahead to 2010 with all of these moves, so every so often we need to consider the current 49ers and what to expect in 2010. This isn't so much about predicting exact numbers (although you're more than welcome to do that if you so please), as it is about considering the big picture of a player's impact next season and what we can expect. Obviously stats are part of that, but we don't need to get too specific. A couple weeks ago we started this with defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer. Balmer is a guy that is tough to figure out in terms of what to expect in 2010.

Our second round of this series focuses on a guy for whom some of us might have some fairly crazy expectations: Michael Crabtree. I decided to go with Crabtree at this point thanks in part to seeing CSN Bay Area's video of him during last week's OTAs. From everything I've seen and read, Michael Crabtree wants greatness and is willing to put in the work to reach greatness. He recognizes what he missed out on last year and is putting in the work to improve a lot in 2010. I know we shouldn't have to get all excited about somebody wanting to do their job, but it's a good thing nonetheless.

I throw out my grandiose expectations after the jump...

I realize he's only entering his second season, and not even his second full season at that, but my expectations are probably too high given where he's at in his development. After all, we're talking about a guy who is just now learning some of the basics of performing at the NFL level. Last season he was basically thrown in the deep end and had to rely on just his talent. Now he's finally getting a chance to add to his already strong base of talent and knowledge.

Given all that, I've posted a fairly basic poll for this post. The San Francisco 49ers have not had a 1,000 yard wide receiver since Terrell Owens finished with 1,102 yards in 2003. Last season, Vernon Davis came close, finishing with 965 yards. Given Crabtree's potential development, the 49ers could very well find themselves with a pair of guys surpassing 1,000 yards.

Crabtree is the #1 wide receiver on this team, while Davis was arguably the biggest playmaking threat. I'm really not all that concerned about getting the two of them enough touches. For Crabtree, the big development for him will be as a big play threat. He was turning into a great weapon for the shorter plays, and the team did everything they could to make his best college play, the bubble screen, work. However, even with a guy like Vernon Davis making big plays, particularly in the Vernon Zone (30 yards and in for those not here last year), I think it'd be nice to see Crabtree add some more big plays to his resume. Given what we saw his rookie season I definitely can't complain all that much. Now it's a matter of fine-tuning this weapon.

So what do you expect out of Michael Crabtree in 2010? Do you see him continuing his rise to greatness, a flattening out for one year, or maybe a sophomore slump? Personally, I'm willing to expect 1,000 yards, which would put him in some solid company (23 receivers had 1,000+ yards last season). As for touchdowns, he only has so much control over that. He finished with 2 last season, and getting in the end zone was where he didn't quite blow up as hoped.

We definitely want to see him turn into a scoring machine, but much of that will depend on the play-calling and his chemistry with Alex Smith. From all reports though, he and Smith are working hard together, so hopefully they can develop the chemistry that is absolutely vital for them to turn into a potent duo. I say it happens, but I'm sure plenty of folks will disagree (on the chemistry with Smith issue, not Crabtree having a big year).