Crabtree caps career year with Super Bowl berth
Michael Crabtree refused to remove the black 49ers beanie and
reveal his hair. Nope, not going to do it.
Crabtree is trying to maintain every possible element of
surprise he might still have left heading into his first Super Bowl
– and will certainly take any advantage he can get this week.
Not that his `do has much to do with it. But this is Crabtree,
quirky and superstitious, a guy still trying to shed that diva
label he picked up as a college star at Texas Tech. It’s something
his San Francisco teammates are quick to dismiss, insisting that’s
not the case.
The dynamic, play-making wide receiver will be a primary focus
for the Baltimore Ravens’ secondary come Sunday at the Superdome.
Crabtree is as dangerous after the catch as he is dodging defensive
backs to make acrobatic catches or finding ways to keep both feet
inbounds while tiptoeing the sideline.
”A lot of coaches can coach a route and how you catch the ball,
but after the catch it’s really all you,” he said. ”That’s what
makes you special.”
No matter his catches or number of chances this weekend,
Crabtree cares about only one thing: capping his career season with
a championship ring. The fanfare and media frenzy, he’ll take it or
leave it (his voice was hoarse Wednesday from all the talking). He
is still coming to terms with being a public figure, and the
constant scrutiny that goes along with it.
Just last week, Crabtree learned he wouldn’t face charges for an
alleged sexual assault in a hotel after the 49ers beat Green Bay in
the NFC divisional playoffs on Jan. 12. The San Francisco district
attorney announced Friday there would be no charges ”at this
time.” The wideout was never arrested or detained, and police said
he cooperated with the investigation.
”I was disappointed in the allegations,” Crabtree said
Wednesday morning, before heading off to practice at Saints
headquarters. ”It’s over now.”
Crabtree still carries a chip on his shoulder and is out to
prove he should have been drafted higher. He held out for 71 days
as a rookie before signing in October 2009 and becoming a starter
less than three weeks later. He wouldn’t change much about how
things have gone so early in his NFL career.
After all, had he gone to the Oakland Raiders with the seventh
overall pick that year – they selected Darrius Heyward-Bey instead
– Crabtree would be watching after yet another losing season in the
East Bay. The Niners grabbed him three spots later at No. 10.
”I watched him as a youngster, I watched him in college,”
Baltimore receiver Jacoby Jones said. ”When he came out and he
held out, I was interested to see what he was going to do. He came
in and I was like, `This kid can play.’ I like his game. He’s got
great hands, great route runner.”
Colin Kaepernick sure thinks so. Crabtree quickly became the
second-year quarterback’s top target after he took over the
starting job under center midseason.
Kaepernick’s passes come so fast they require extra
concentration and ”you’ve just got to focus at all times on his
”He does a lot of things well and he’s a very physical
receiver,” Kaepernick said. ”He wants to get in the end zone
every time he touches the ball. As a quarterback, that’s something
Crabtree receives guidance from a couple of other characters who
have dazzled at his position – teammate Randy Moss and former 49ers
star Terrell Owens. Moss tells Crabtree like it is, on the field
and off, while T.O. offers advice from time to time via text
They’ve got a few things in common, too.
In the season finale against Arizona on Dec. 30, Crabtree caught
two touchdowns and finished with a career-high 172 yards on eight
receptions. It was the best outing by a 49ers receiver since Owens’
166-yard performance in November 2002. Crabtree, finally healthy
for a full season after a series of injuries in his first three
seasons, also became San Francisco’s first 1,000-yard receiver
since T.O. in `03.
If he and Kaepernick can keep their good thing going, Crabtree
certainly has a chance at a championship.
”He’s a great runner and he has great ability to make people
miss,” Ravens cornerback Cary Williams said. ”He’s elusive. He’s
a guy that can put his foot in the ground and move and get to a
different direction. He’s having a great year and he’s done some
great things for that team. We look forward to the challenge out
there of going against him.”
Crabtree keeps defenders guessing on every down with his
big-play potential all over the field.
He finished with career highs of nine touchdowns, 85 catches and
1,105 yards this season. That included five TDs and 30 catches on
third-down plays – both stats among the top five in the NFL.
Teammate Frank Gore describes his recent play as the ”Texas
Crabtree took it personally when the 49ers failed to reach last
year’s Super Bowl after a 20-17 overtime loss to the eventual
champion New York Giants. San Francisco’s receiving corps managed
one catch for 3 yards that game. It was his reception, but hardly
”I can’t really pinpoint the things that Crabtree has picked
up,” Moss said. ”I just told him when I first came I really
wanted to work, I just wanted to be out there with him to make
plays for him. Michael Crabtree hasn’t let me down, he really
hasn’t. Everybody has little stumbles in the road. It’s great to
see a person to overcome so many things. His whole 49ers career
he’s had some stumbles and hasn’t been able to complete a whole
season, but to go out there and make the plays he’s made this year,
my hat’s off to him.”
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