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Crabtree’s return: A look inside the numbers

After missing the first 11 games of 2013, it sounds as if Michael Crabtree will be ready to make his season debut when the 49ers take on the St. Louis Rams in Week 13. While they took some steps forward in Week 12’s 27-6 win over the Redskins, the passing offense has been a problem all season for San Francisco. Colin Kaepernick has only thrown for more than 200 yards in three games all year and the team is dead last in the NFL in passing yards with 1908.

The return of Crabtree, even if limited at first, should provide a boon for Kaepernick as the two developed a special chemistry in 2012.  In the last five regular season games, Crabtree caught 35 of Kaepernick’s passes for 538 yards and 4 touchdowns. Overall, Kaepernick completed 68.5 percent of the passes thrown Crabtree’s way with 8 touchdowns and no interceptions. In comparision, he had a 58.4 percent completion percentage with 1 touchdown and 4 picks when throwing to all other wide receivers.

Even more important is what Crabtree will bring to the team on third downs. In 2012, the receiver caught 32 passes and 24 of those receptions were converted into first downs. Overall, he was targeted 49 times on third and fourth down by both Kaepernick and Alex Smith. Crabtree was also deadly after he caught the ball in 2012. His 543 yards after the catch were the fourth highest total in the league and accounted for 49.1 percent of his total receiving yards.

At 7-4, the 49ers find themselves in a dogfight for a playoff spot and every game from here on out is a must win. The return of Crabtree makes the team as whole as they’ve been all season, and the most equipped to handle tough games down the stretch.

Photo: Getty Images

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Boris Nunez

    December 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Considering he played in a run-first offense and for a defense-oriented team, Crabtree’s third season constituted progress. For starters, Crabtree caught 63 percent of the passes thrown his way (7th) and brought in three passes of 40-plus yards. His 7.7 YPT was below average, but still a career high as he and Alex Smith were more on the same page. Crabtree also hauled in 72 balls and led the team with 114 targets. At 6-1, 214, Crabtree’s got good size, plus ball skills, solid hands and good toughness. The 49ers put those skills to use in the red zone (17 targets), but only four of those were from inside the 10. Crabtree, who has battled a foot injury since his rookie year, has been a constant attendee at the team’s strength and conditioning program this offseason, and at press time claimed to feel healthier than at any point in his NFL career. That’s a good thing because the Niners brought in a lot of competition for targets in Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and first-round pick A.J. Jenkins.

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