The San Francisco 49ers looked like they found their new star-studded quarterback to receiver combination with Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree. After Kaepernick took over as quarterback last season, Crabtree was the quarterback’s most targeted receiver and caught the most touchdowns as well. Kaepernick threw eight touchdowns and zero interceptions when throwing to Crabtree last season.
Unfortunately, that duo will have to be put on hold after Crabtree, 25, tore his achilles at team OTA’s. He underwent surgery today and is expected to miss six months.
The amount of time missed for Crabtree could easily be more than six months. Tearing an achilles is an excruciating injury in itself, but for a receiver the injury could be even worse.
Receivers begin in a sprinters stance putting pressure on the achilles right from the start, and then look to burst from their position as fast as possible. What also hurts is the need for stopping on a dime and cutting in stride.
Crabtree is in the last season of his contract and after a breakout season, a big payday was expected. Now Crabtree can go two ways about his season and his new contract:
1. Crabtree could come back as soon as he is healthy and prove that he is one of the top receivers in the NFL.
2. Crabtree could take his time to play again, so he does not risk getting hurt and losing money in free agency.
After how Crabtree handled his contract holdout as a rookie, it will be interesting to see how handles this issue after a breakout season. The receiver looked like the star everybody expected him to be after a dominating career at Texas Tech, and showed more passion as a better blocker too.
The loss of Crabtree certainly hurts the 49ers and players must step up. Luckily, one of the deepest rosters in football resides in San Francisco.
While the Niners are losing one receiver in Crabtree, they are getting another back from an injury with the return of Mario Manningham. Look for Vernon Davis to return to form as one of the best tight ends in the league, and become Kaepernick’s first option. Kaepernick did not connect with Davis quickly, but he will have to get Davis the ball and let his athleticism take over.
The big question mark will be the Niners young receiving core.
Last season, San Francisco drafted receiver A.J. Jenkins out of Illinois in the first round. The pick was seen as a reach by people all over the league, and Jenkins only dressed in three games. He must prove that he was worth the pick in a crowded group of receivers.
A name to watch this year is rookie Quinton Patton, a fourth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech. As a senior the receiver had 104 receptions for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns. The brightest part of his game is actually his character.
Patton attempted to join his new team and learn the playbook literally as soon as possible. If his plan fell through he would have actually broke league rules. Ironically, Patton was almost late to rookie mini camp after his ID was buried in his bag. Jim Harbaugh has praised the rookie and he could be a big name to watch this season.
Veteran receiver Anquan Boldin will take over as San Francisco’s No. 1 receiver after dominating them in the Super Bowl last season. The Niners will have to hope he can stay healthy and continue to produce.
While the loss of Michael Crabtree hurts, perhaps the only team in football that can still survive after losing a player of his stature is the 49ers.