"He does a lot of things well and he's a very physical receiver," Kaepernick said. "He wants to get in the end zone every time he touches the ball. As a quarterback, that's something you love."
Crabtree receives guidance from a couple of other characters who have dazzled at his position — teammate Randy Moss and former 49ers star Terrell Owens. Moss tells Crabtree like it is, on the field and off, while T.O. offers advice from time to time via text messages.
They've got a few things in common, too.
In the season finale against Arizona on Dec. 30, Crabtree caught two touchdowns and finished with a career-high 172 yards on eight receptions. It was the best outing by a 49ers receiver since Owens' 166-yard performance in November 2002. Crabtree, finally healthy for a full season after a series of injuries in his first three seasons, also became San Francisco's first 1,000-yard receiver since T.O. in '03.
If he and Kaepernick can keep their good thing going, Crabtree certainly has a chance at a championship.
"He's a great runner and he has great ability to make people miss," Ravens cornerback Cary Williams said. "He's elusive. He's a guy that can put his foot in the ground and move and get to a different direction. He's having a great year and he's done some great things for that team. We look forward to the challenge out there of going against him."
Crabtree keeps defenders guessing on every down with his big-play potential all over the field.
He finished with career highs of nine touchdowns, 85 catches and 1,105 yards this season. That included five TDs and 30 catches on third-down plays — both stats among the top five in the NFL.
Teammate Frank Gore describes his recent play as the "Texas Tech Crabtree."
Crabtree took it personally when the 49ers failed to reach last year's Super Bowl after a 20-17 overtime loss to the eventual champion New York Giants. San Francisco's receiving corps managed one catch for 3 yards that game. It was his reception, but hardly enough.
"I can't really pinpoint the things that Crabtree has picked up," Moss said. "I just told him when I first came I really wanted to work, I just wanted to be out there with him to make plays for him. Michael Crabtree hasn't let me down, he really hasn't. Everybody has little stumbles in the road. It's great to see a person to overcome so many things. His whole 49ers career he's had some stumbles and hasn't been able to complete a whole season, but to go out there and make the plays he's made this year, my hat's off to him."
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