YSTL: Does Kap need to improve for 49ers to make serious playoff run?
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SANTA CLARA – Michael Crabtree threw his hands up in disgust after one of Colin Kaepernick’s passes went to the other side of the field on Sunday.
Crabtree’s frustration was evident when Kaepernick overthrew him on a deep post pattern later in the game. Crabtree grabbed the ball and hurled it back toward the line of scrimmage, inadvertently striking a Tampa Bay defender in the back, and earning a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Other than the penalty, Kaepernick said he fully approves of Crabtree’s conduct.
[RELATED: Crabtree plays with pent-up emotions]
“To me, I don’t see it necessarily as a bad thing,” Kaepernick said on Wednesday. “Obviously you don’t want the flag; that was something that didn’t benefit us. But having a receiver that constantly wants the ball is something I like.
“I’ll manage the situation of him, ‘Hey, give me the ball. I want the ball. I’m trying to make a play. You could have hit me on this.’ I’ll manage that. I feel it’s tougher when you have a receiver that’s, ‘Um, if you throw it my way, I guess I’ll try to make a play.’ That’s a worse situation. The fact he wants the ball and constantly is asking for it, that’s a good thing for me.”
And it’s an even better thing for the 49ers’ offense, Kaepernick said, that Crabtree is not the only player who feels that way.
For most of the season, Anquan Boldin was the obvious 49ers’ No. 1 wide receiver while Crabtree was out of action for the first 11 games of the season as he recovered from surgery in May to repair a torn Achilles.
Boldin, an 11-year veteran, wants the ball every bit as much as Crabtree, but he goes about it a different way.
“He’s a little more subtle about it,” Kaepernick said of Boldin. “But he’s someone who’ll come to the sideline after a series and be like, ‘He can’t cover me.’ So at that point, from then on during the game, I know if I need an outlet, he’s probably going to be open.”
Boldin leads the 49ers with 70 catches for 958 yards and five touchdowns. In the three games since Crabtree’s return to action, Boldin has 18 receptions for 243 yards. Crabtree has 11 catches for 153 yards and a touchdown.
“I think this is a good situation for us, where we’re at right now,” Kaeperick said. “I think at that point and time (May), we knew we had lost a big-time receiver for us. We really didn’t know how things we’re going to play out going through training camp, going through the season. We felt very comfortable with Anquan, obviously. He was a proven vet. The other receivers we had, we felt good about. But they hadn’t had the game-time experience, so it was something where we kind of had to see how things went through the season.
“We had some people do some good things, but I think the biggest thing was that Anquan played the way he did. That was one of the biggest factors for us. He came out and he’s played like a maniac this year.”
Now, Kaepernick sees the passing game in a good spot with Boldin and Crabtree competing -- along with Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald, Mario Manningham, Quinton Patton and others -- for Kaepernick’s attention.
Said Kaepernick: “I feel like the competition between them is something that’s going to raise not just their play but everybody’s, from Vernon’s to Vance’s to Mario’s to Quinton. The competition they have as far as, ‘When I catch the ball I’m trying to score.’ I mean, they have times in practice where they’re, ‘Hey, throw me the ball. I’m going to do this.’ That’s something you love to see as an offensive player. They’re players that challenge each other in a good way, in that ‘I want to see if I can make a better play than you.’”