Three and Out: Crabtree's progress, Brock's history, Whitner's hits
SANTA CLARA -- Michael Crabtree might not look like the same wide receiver the Arizona Cardinals have been accustomed to seeing. But the guy who caught five passes for 102 yards on Monday against the Atlanta Falcons was not too shabby, either.
“To come back from a torn Achilles is huge and put up the numbers he did Monday night, you can tell he’s slowly getting that momentum, that confidence back in himself.” Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson said Thursday in a conference call with Bay Area reporters.
"(Colin) Kaepernick is always trusting him to come out with the ball. It’s great to have that kind of chemistry between a quarterback and a receiver. He did look really, really good Monday. Hopefully, he doesn’t look good Sunday.”
The Cardinals must beat the 49ers on Sunday to have any chance at advancing to the playoffs. New Orleans must also lose to Tampa Bay in order for the Cardinals to earn an NFC wild-card spot.
Crabtree is becoming a bigger part of the 49ers' offense in the four games since his return. He has 16 receptions after missing 11 games due to offseason surgery to repair a torn Achilles. His 255 yards receiving rank behind only Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis on the 49ers.
"You can tell he doesn't look as comfortable as he did when he was healthy. Obviously, that's going to come with time,” Peterson said. “But he can still catch the ball and still run good routes.”
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians agrees with Peterson’s assessment.
"I do not see the same guy," he said of Crabtree. "But he's getting really close."
Crabtree has never been known for blazing speed. But he is still able to get open on deep routes, mostly due to a variety of double-moves. He burnt Peterson on one such stop-and-go maneuver a couple in 2011.
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“They get him on a lot of double moves to fool defenses, to get the defensive back to stop his feet or settle down,” Peterson said. “Receivers are running forward so it’s difficult for defensive backs to stop and go going backward.”
Crabtree, who is averaging 15.9 yards per reception, is especially dangerous as a runner after the catch.
Said Peterson, “He’s so elusive, especially after the catch. He does a great job of gaining yards after the catch. He reminds me of a Dez Bryant, a guy that is tough to tackle once he gets a ball in his hands."