Three and Out: 49ers' OL depth; defense, special teams step up
SAN FRANCISCO – In Michael Crabtree’s return to action, he tied his career-high with a 60-yard reception.
But, mostly, Crabtree took a backseat Sunday to Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis in the 49ers’ 23-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
Boldin caught nine passes for 98 yards, and Vernon Davis flashed his hurdling skills in the midst of his four-catch, 82-yard showing that featured a leap over Rams defensive back Janoris Jenkins at the goal line for a 17-yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick.
“He was on his game and made the plays that only he can make,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of Davis.
In his return from a torn Achilles tendon, Crabtree produced the 49ers’ most single-game receiving yards from a 49ers player other than Boldin or Davis this season.
Crabtree had just two catches for 68 yards with most of the yards coming on a deep catch after getting open on a double move against Trumaine Johnson. Crabtree picked up 42 yards after the catch.
Crabtree was cleared to resume practice on Nov. 5, and he was activated to the 53-man roster last week. Still, Harbaugh said there were are always lingering questions about how effective he could be this soon.
“I think you don’t know for sure,” Harbaugh a. “But he’s always been a big-time game player. If there is a thing, he is that. So you anticipate that.”
Crabtree got the start and played approximately two-thirds of the 49ers’ offensive snaps. He replaced Mario Manningham in the starting lineup. Manningham played sparingly and did not see a pass thrown his way.
Crabtree’s presence might have opened up more opportunities for Boldin, who had his most receptions and yards since his 13-catch, 208-yard opener against Green Bay.
“It’s about time he gets double-teamed now,” Boldin said. “When you have a guy like that on the other side, it definitely relieves some pressure off of you. It frees you up to just go out and play ball. It’s good to have him back.”
Kaepernick completed 19 of 28 passes for 275 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. The 49ers are 12-0 in Kaepernick starts in which he records a passer rating of 90 or better. His rating was 111.5 on Sunday.
Kaepernick’s only touchdown came one play after Anthony Dixon thwarted a Rams fake-punt attempt. Kaepernick threw to Davis, who cut to the inside and jumped over Jenkins. Earlier, Davis made a similar move when he hurdled Rams safety Rodney McLeod.
“I just did whatever I could to do make a play,” Davis said.
The Rams geared up to stop the run on Sunday after running back Frank Gore rushed for 153 yards against St. Louis in a Week 4 game. Gore managed just 42 yards on 15 rushing attempts. And that enabled the 49ers to make some plays through the air.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Boldin is difficult to cover because of the threat that Gore poses for a defense.
“When you run the football, you are going to create one-on-ones on the outside,” Fisher said.
The 49ers have a league-low two receivers who have caught touchdown passes this season. Of Kaepernick’s 15 touchdown throws, Davis has caught 10 while Boldin has the other five.
But that could be changing as Crabtree gets more involved. He believes he should’ve become the third 49ers player to catch a touchdown pass when safety T.J. McDonald brought him down on the long pass play.
“I was supposed to take that to the house,” said Crabtree, admitting his speed was not at 100 percent. “I had to stiff-arm him to get him off of me. I tried to make it happen and (I) came up short, but it was a good play.”