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What's up with Michael Crabtree's drops?

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49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree is not having the kind of season to which he is accustomed. Any idea what might be going on?

Ezra Shaw

The San Francisco 49ers have had plenty of offensive problems this season, with the play of the offensive line being high on the list. Another part of the offense that has struggled is Michael CrabtreeHe spoke to the media Thursday afternoon, and acknowledged that he was not where he wanted to be at this point in the season.

Crabtree put together a strong 2012 season, and then had a season delayed by his Achilles injury. He was not 100 percent when he returned, but all seemed well heading into this season. And yet, this season has been a struggle for the sixth year wide receiver. Crabtree currently has 37 receptions for 362 yards, and three touchdowns. He is also averaging 1.33 yards per route run, which ranks 37th among 41 qualifying wide receivers. For comparison sake, in 2012, his last fully healthy season, he had 85 receptions for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns. He averaged 2.55 yards per route run, which was good for third among 34 wide receivers. This season, he has 7 drops through 8 games. In 2012, he had 9 drops through 19 games.

I was expecting a bit of a drop in production if only because this year's 49ers squad has more offensive talent than any in the last decade. With more people potentially catching passes, I would expect the top end to come down a bit with the bottom of the corps getting more opportunities. However, I did not anticipate the increase in drops. As to the yards per route run, he is running more routes (34 routes per game, vs. 27 per game in 2012), so it is not entirely shocking.

So I guess it just comes down to the drops. Is it just a bad run that every receiver goes through? We've seen how ridiculously good Crabtree's hands can be, so it's not like he has a history of this. Crabtree dealt with some foot and lower leg injuries earlier in the season, but has said everything is fine. It just seems like it has been an odd year for Crabtree. Any ideas on what is going on, and do you see him returning to form in the second half of the season?