SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree waited nearly eight months to finally step on the field together for game day.
At last, in Week 13, everyone got to see the dynamic tandem in San Francisco's upgraded receiving corps — and it didn't take them long to discover an impressive rhythm for a passing game in serious need of a jolt.
While the emotional Boldin helped lead the offense alongside Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore and Vernon Davis early on, Crabtree worked through months of rehab after surgery for a torn right Achilles tendon.
"That was the vision going in, him on one side, me on the other, Vernon working the middle of the field," Boldin said. "It's tough on defenses when you have two guys outside capable of having big games, and then you have Vernon inside matched up with linebackers. So, it gives defenses fits."
Whether the Seahawks' stellar secondary can be fooled by this talented trio during the NFC championship game Sunday at Seattle will play a key factor in which of the archrivals advances to the Super Bowl.
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh wondered whether Crabtree would be the same dominant player. Even offensive coordinator Greg Roman had his doubts it would happen this season given the severity of Crabtree's injury.
"You've always got to plan for the worst-case scenario," Roman said Thursday. "Until I saw him pushing a sled about a month and a half ago out here, I realized it was reality."
Crabtree quickly returned to form as someone Harbaugh considers the best pass catcher he has seen. Crabtree might celebrate a clutch catch by pumping his arms, while Boldin tends to do so by barking at an opposing defender.
"That's just my personality. It's always been the way that I played the game," Boldin said. "I was always told if you don't play the game all out, then you're cheating yourself."
To see Crabtree back at full strength means so much for San Francisco's swagger as the team carries an eight-game winning streak into CenturyLink Field.