49ers key matchup No. 2: Crabtree vs. Finnegan

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49ers key matchup No. 2: Crabtree vs. Finnegan

This is the second part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Rams matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m. (FOX), at the Edward Jones Dome.49ers WR Michael Crabtree vs. Rams CB Cortland Finnegan
Tale of the tape
Crabtree (15): 6-foot-1, 214 pounds, fourth season, Texas Tech
Finnegan (31): 5-foot-10, 188 pounds, seventh season, SamfordMichael Crabtree has known for a little more than four years that Colin Kaepernick was a "gamer."He saw it when Texas Tech played Nevada in an early season game in 2008. Nevada featured a quarterback who threw for 264 yards and rushed for 92 yards in a game Texas Tech won handily.
"We played against Nevada, and the guy was putting up points and running and doing the same thing he's doing now," Crabtree said.What Kaepernick is doing now is trying to use his arm more than his legs as the 49ers' freshly anointed starting quarterback. And one of Kaepernick's main goals is to get the ball into Crabtree's trusted hands.Crabtree has caught a touchdown pass in each of the past five games against the Rams. In those games he has 27 receptions for 435 yards and six touchdowns. Crabtree might be sneaking up on the rest of the NFL, but the Rams are not taking him lightly."Crabtree is a special guy," said Cortland Finnegan, the Rams' top cornerback. "He can run all the kind of routes. To me, he's underrated. He makes all the plays that all the big-time guys make."Finnegan, one of the more physical defensive backs in the game, figures to be matched against Crabtree throughout the game. Finnegan has three interceptions and eight passes broken up on the year.
Crabtree is the 49ers' top receiver. He leads the 49ers with 50 receptions for 567 yards and five touchdowns. He has been particularly impressive with his yards after the catch. Finnegan is a sure-tackler, ranking third on the Rams with 83 tackles.
"I'm trying to do it all," Crabtree said. "I wouldn't just pick that out. If I can go deep, I'll go deep. If I can get YAC yards, I'll get YAC yards."Crabtree clearly has no problem with coach Jim Harbaugh's decision to insert the big-armed Kaepernick into the starting lineup. The 49ers lead the NFC West with a 8-2-1 record, and appear headed for the playoffs."I think we're capable of doing anything with the defense we have, whoever's at quarterback," Crabtree said. "I'm just loving the fact we're trying to get in the end zone, and he (Kaepernick) is just trying to make plays. He's really showing he can be a starter in this league."

Seahawks lose All-Pro S Earl Thomas for season

Seahawks lose All-Pro S Earl Thomas for season

RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks will be without safety Earl Thomas for the rest of the season due to his broken lower left leg, no matter how far the team advances in the playoffs.

Coach Pete Carroll said Monday that further examination determined Thomas' fractured left tibia will require a recovery time that does not allow for the possibility of a return during the 2016 season. Carroll said after Sunday's 40-7 win over Carolina that Thomas' injury usually takes a minimum of six weeks of recovery time.

It's the first major injury of Thomas' career. He played 106 straight games before missing Seattle's loss at Tampa Bay last week with a hamstring injury. He quickly recovered to play against the Panthers, but was hurt in a second-quarter collision with teammate Kam Chancellor going for an interception.

Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan supports Trent Baalke over Chip Kelly

Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan supports Trent Baalke over Chip Kelly

Mike Nolan coached the 49ers for three full seasons before he was fired after Week 7 in his fourth year at the helm.

On Monday morning, he was asked about the situation in Santa Clara and if he would make a change at head coach or general manager.

"It's sad that it's gone to where it is," Nolan said on 95.7 The Game. "They're beginning to look much like when I took the job over in 2005 ... and there really was not a lot of good personnel on the team.

"The difference though that is better and will continue to be better, they will be (in) a much better cap situation going forward than we ever were back then ... but the losing I should say is really killing them.

"The personnel is not as bad as they're playing and that's the thing that really gets under your skin as a coach because you're frustrated by what's going on ... the thing that I have thought most of the season when people were talking about changes as the losses started to mount up, was not to change it. Because I know Trent (Baalke) personally, and Trent does a good job with personnel and that's his primary job.

"But for a lot of strange reasons -- guys retiring, guys quitting a couple years ago, just a lot of weird things that occurred -- their roster has kind of fallen off a little bit, but it is still a much better roster than some of these other teams that are not winning."

After winning their Week 1 game against the Rams, the 49ers have lost a franchise-record 11 straight games.

Chip Kelly is under contract through 2019 and the team owes Jim Tomsula $7 million over the next two years combined.

Baalke's contract runs through 2018.

"It's about players first and I think they have the right guy in place to pick the players but unfortunately for Trent, I think the choice of Tomsula hurt him and currently right now with Chip Kelly it's not helping him either," Nolan added. "They do not have a bad roster.

"Obviously they need a quarterback. They could be a .500 team in my opinion if they get a quarterback as near as next year even ... they got a tough decision to make at the end."