When WR Michael Crabtree first broke into the league with the San Francisco 49ers in 2009, it was a dream come true for the Forever Faithful. A player that was supposed to be long gone when the Niners were on the clock, somehow fell into their laps. A big contributor to Crabtree’s slide, was due to cross bay area rival Oakland Raiders. The Raiders in desperate need of a top flight wide receiver, opted to draft the speed demon, rather than the best player available. A typical Al Davis move, the Raiders instead drafted WR Darrius Heyward-Bey in the first-round (No. 7). A move that was quickly scrutinized by NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, as he said:
That is a classic Al Davis pick. He is a height, weight, speed, guy. The fastest guy at the combine. My issue is inconsistent hands. And to me, that is way earlier, than he should have been picked.
I was laughing to myself as this unfolded, because I knew that Crabtree was by far, more superior of the two players. Five years later, Heyward-Bey now finds himself in a Indianapolis Colts uniform, while Crabtree is on the cusp of making his first Pro Bowl appearance.
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Speaking of the Pro Bowl, that is where I believe Crabtree is headed this year. He is durable, strong, and agile. He does not possess the 4.4 speed, but make no mistake, he more than makes up for it, with his elusiveness and run after the catch ability. Time after time, you will see Crabtree break numerous tackles. Whether he cuts back against the grain, or jukes a defensive back, Crabtree is a master at utilizing his momentum to throw tacklers off their game.
Aside from being a great run after the catch threat, Crabtree possesses some of the strongest hands in the game. He snatches balls out of the air, like it’s no one’s business. Whether he is extending his arms to catch an over thrown ball, or making the tough catch in the middle, Crabtree will come down with the ball in his hands. A trait that new fellow teammate WR Anquan Boldin has mastered over the years, the Niners may have the best hands tandem in the NFL.
Boldin has been one of the more consistent players over the years, and knowing he will be lined up opposite of Crabtree, will only help solidify Crabtree’s dominance as a Pro Bowl player. For the first time in Crabtree’s career, he now has a teammate who can help take the load off him. No longer can defenses shift their focus to Crabtree, as Boldin will make them pay dearly for it. A true one-two punch, look for Crabtree to benefit from Boldin’s presence, as I predict him to have over 100 receptions, 1,300 yards, and 12 touchdowns.
Whether these statistics become a reality, is anyone’s guess. However, no matter what Crabtree’s numbers reflect at the end of the season, he should be having a Pro Bowl season, as I predict him to make his first Pro Bowl of his career.