49ers-Cardinals matchup No. 1: Michael Crabtree vs. Patrick Peterson
Michael Crabtree caught 13 passes for 244 yards and four touchdown passes in two games against the Cardinals last year. (USATSI)
Editor's note: This is the final part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Cardinals matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at University of Phoenix Stadium.
49ers WR Michael Crabtee vs. Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson
[RELATED: Matchup No. 2: Brock vs. Fitzgerald]
Tale of the tape
Crabtree (15): 6 foot 1, 214 pounds, fifth season, Texas Tech
Peterson (21): 6 foot 1, 219 pounds, third season, LSU
Michael Crabtree might not be quite up to full speed after missing most of the season as he recovered from surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon.
But he proved Monday night he is still a dangerous weapon in the 49ers’ offense.
Crabtree, who had 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns receiving last season, had his best game since his return against the Atlanta Falcons. He caught five passes for 102 yards.
“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.” Peterson said this week 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.”
Crabtree’s re-emergence also creates a problem for the Cardinals, who need a victory over the 49ers and a New Orleans loss to Tampa Bay to advance to the playoffs.
Peterson has earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three NFL seasons. As a rookie, he was chosen as a return man. The past two seasons he has made the all-star team at cornerback.
It is common for Peterson to shadow the opposition’s top receiver. He is the NFL's 12th-rated cornerback, according to Pro Football Focus' grading system. The choice was a simple one in October when the clubs met. Anquan Boldin was the 49ers’ only threat at wide receiver. Peterson was on Boldin most of the game and held him to three receptions for 28 yards.
Boldin leads the 49ers with 76 receptions for 1,030 yards this season. But Crabtree is coming on strong. After missing the first 11 games of the season, Crabtree is already No. 3 on the 49ers in receiving yards with 255 yards on 16 receptions.
[RELATED: Matchup No. 3: Iupati vs. Dockett]
Crabtree might not have the deep speed of some of other wide receivers in the NFL, but he has the ability to get behind a secondary through good route-running and double moves.
“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.”
In four previous games in which Crabtree and Peterson have mostly gone head-to-head, Crabtree has clearly won the battles with 27 receptions for 427 yards and four touchdowns.