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Michael Crabtree Enters Postseason Strong

Posted Jan 9, 2013



To close out the 2012 regular season, Michael Crabtree caught 19 passes for 344 yards (114.7 per game) to go along with four touchdown catches in the final three games.

San Francisco’s leading wideout, however, isn’t making much noise about his most productive year in four seasons with the 49ers.

Instead, the ninth wideout in team history to record a 1,000-yard receiving season is focused on what lies ahead: Saturday night’s Divisional Playoff matchup with the Green Bay Packers.

A second postseason run in consecutive seasons means even more to the young wideout based on his production in the 2011 postseason when Crabtree stood as San Francisco’s only healthy starting receiver.

“I feel like I got a little chip on my shoulder right now and I can’t wait to get back out there for the playoffs… the big stage.” Crabtree said on Wednesday. “It’s a big game for us as an offense, as a defense, special teams, as a team.”

Crabtree finished the regular season with career highs across the board – 85 receptions, 1,105 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches all surpassed his 2011 statistics.

“He’s a very good player,” Crabtree’s head coach Jim Harbaugh said. “This isn’t a new or recent thing really in my mind. He’s got a lot of skill. He’s very productive. And he loves to compete.”

Crabtree’s production increase is a result from a number of factors, health, experience, talent, being some of the biggest reasons, but more importantly, the increases are a direct result from more passes being targeted his way.

The leading wideout was targeted 13 more times in 2012. Coincidentally, he caught 13 more passes.

“I haven’t really checked it,” the 49ers wideout said of his targets. “It probably went up. I’m really trying the make the most of my opportunities.”

Still, Crabtree sees bigger and better performances ahead. The way he closed out the regular season is just the start of it in his mind.

“I feel like I can play better,” he said.

Part of Crabtree’s determination comes from his growing relationship with second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was responsible for five of Crabtree’s touchdown catches this season.

Crabtree appreciates how the two are able to experiment at practice, but pointed out to gamedays as the biggest indication of their comfort.

“Chemistry really comes on Sunday,” Crabtree detailed. “It comes during the week, too, but when you connect on Sundays, it gives you more confidence.”

Crabtree said one of the biggest gains from the practice work is understanding how to catch Kaepernick’s rocket-like passes.

“You just have to pay attention,” said San Francisco’s first wideout to record a 1,000-yard season since 2003. “If you’re thinking about it, I’m sure you’re going to drop it. He’s got a lot of heat behind his ball. It’s football you know? Pitch and catch.”

Crabtree understands Green Bay’s defense presents a challenge when it visits Candlestick Park Saturday night, but the 49ers wideout truly believes it’s all about San Francisco’s in-game execution. That, in his mind, will lead to a repeat appearance in the NFC Championship.

“I feel like we’re ready to perform,” the 49ers wideout said confidently.

Crabtree, however, didn’t want to say much more than that.

The fourth-year pro has kept a low profile in the media and explained the reasoning for it.

“I really don’t like talking about it too much, I really like playing,” Crabtree explained. “I just can’t wait ‘til Saturday to go out there with my team with the great defense that we have and all those guys we have on offense. I can’t wait to show what we’ve been practicing.”

For the 49ers wideout, it all starts against the Packers.

“I want to go the Super Bowl, I want to do all those things, but we’ve just got to take it one game at a time,” Crabtree said, sounding like a true veteran. “I think Green Bay is in front of us right now and I think we need to take care of our business.”

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