On this Thanksgiving weekend, Michael Crabtree made his return to the San Francisco 49ers lineup and he did not disappoint in his season debut. From the start of the game, Crabtree was double-teamed by the Rams, which allowed Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin to thrive in the 49ers passing attack in a 23-13 victory over the Rams. Davis had four catches for 82 yards and one touchdown, hurdling defenders if had to, one resulting in a touchdown. But Boldin may have been the biggest beneficiary of Crabtree’s return. He had his second best game of the season with nine receptions for 98 yards, fueled by the constant trash-talk of the Rams’ defensive backs.
For most of the game, Crabtree did not have much of an impact as an individual in the passing attack. He had first game jitters by committing two penalties in the first quarter. The first penalty prevented Frank Gore’s biggest run of the game on a block in the back and the second was an offensive pass interference, trying to create space pushing off the defensive back. He only had one catch in the first half for eight yards but he exploded for one play in the second half.
On 3rd and 7 at 49ers’ own 20 yard line holding a 16-6 lead late in the 3rd quarter, Colin Kaepernick found Crabtree for a 60 yard reception down the sideline, something that has been foreign to the 49ers, a deep pass down the field. Crabtree used a double move to get open against Trumaine Johnson and used his speed to pick up 42 yards after the catch. Crabtree may have have gone the distance after stiff-arming Johnson but was caught by safety T.J. McDonald at the Rams’ 20 yard line.
Not only did he help his fellow receivers, he helped his quarterback play efficient in his second consecutive game. Kaepernick went 19 of 28 for 275 yards and a touchdown with a quarterback rating of 111.5. The 49ers are now 12-0 when Kaepernick has a quarterback rating over 90 and Crabtree’s return should make it much easier for him to reach those numbers on a consistent basis.
The 49ers may have to pass the ball even more in the coming weeks with key injuries to two offensive linemen, Joe Staley and Mike Iupati. Frank Gore had only 15 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown after dominating this same Rams team for 153 yards and a touchdown in week 4. The injury to Staley definitely disrupted the run game and Kaepernick took it upon himself to find his three main guys, Boldin, Crabtree and Davis. Look for Crabtree to become an even bigger factor against the Seahawks next week after having one game under his belt. If the Seahawks take him away, look for more of the same from Sunday with Boldin, Davis and even Mario Manningham having productive games. Either way, it’s a win-win for the 49ers and everyone should be thankful that Crabtree is back.
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