Each year, we like to run a series of posts called "90-in-90." The idea is that we'll take a look at every player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few ways. This roster will certainly change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not exactly 90 players in 90 days. At this point, it's a name we're keeping around for street cred.
San Francisco 49ers starting wide receiver, Michael Crabtree, has been one of the more productive and consistent wide receivers in the NFL. Crabtree missed 11 games in the 2013 campaign due to a torn Achilles, but added some much needed pop to the offense when he returned December 1, 2013 against the St. Louis Rams. While he didn’t necessarily fill up the stat sheet with gaudy numbers (only one 100-yard game in the regular season), he was another weapon that opposing defenses had to account for, and a legitimate option for Colin Kaepernick to look for.
Crabtree has the ability to be an immense talent as he showed in 2012, compiling 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns with two different quarterbacks under center. Both his yards and touchdown totals were career highs and he looks to build on those numbers in 2014. There are a couple of different thoughts as to whether the San Francisco 49ers will be able to keep Crabtree after this season, but one thing is certain – he is going to look to make as significant impact on the field as possible in order to garner as much money as possible whether it be from the 49ers or the highest bidder if he tests free agency.
Why he might improve:
Crabtree hasn’t gotten a chance to play a full season with Kaepernick under center and looking solely at Crabtree’s numbers from last year would do no one a favor because he certainly should improve on his 284 yards and one touchdown in the regular season. Crabtree has played a total of 18 games with Kaepernick as the starter since Colin took over as the starter in 2012. In those games he has caught 95 passes for 1,367 yards and 9 touchdowns. If those stats were averaged over the course of a 16-game season, his stat line would look something more like 84 catches, 1,215 yards, and 8 touchdowns. With Anquan Boldin and newly acquired Stevie Johnson at wide receiver, Vernon Davis at tight end, and a backfield chalk full of talent, there is no reason to think that Crabtree can’t put up career numbers across the board. Add the fact that Crabtree is in a contract year and all signs point to success for No. 15.
Why he might regress:
The only feasible reason as to why Crabtree may struggle statistically this season is because there are simply too many weapons available to Kaepernick. Having the ability to spread the ball to Boldin, Johnson, Davis, and Crabtree in addition to the 49ers being a run-first team, Kaepernick may just not have the number of snaps needed to get Crabtree the amount of targets he would like. This is the only way I can see Crabtree regressing in terms of stats, although that is not to say that he doesn’t play a significant role on this team even if he doesn’t see the number of targets he would like. He is still a leader on the offense and does an admirable job of blocking whether it be in the run game or to allow other receivers to gain more yards after the catch.
Chances he makes the roster:
100%. Crabtree is one of the better wide receivers in the game and there is no chance he doesn’t make the roster. The next issue at hand will be for the 49ers brass to determine whether they can sign Crabtree to a long-term extension or whether they need to prepare for life after the former Texas Tech standout.