Season review, part 2: receivers

Tight end Vernon Davis had a solid season, but second-year receiver Michael Crabtree got off to a slow start and didn't have the breakout year everyone expected.

In part two of our San Francisco 49ers season review, let's break down the team's receivers and tight ends, which essentially focuses on wideout Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis.


This season was supposed to be Michael Crabtree's breakout campaign. In 2009, his rookie year, he missed training camp and the first five games after engaging in a prolonged contract impasse with the 49ers. With a full camp under his belt, big things were expected.

So what happened? Crabtree spent most of training camp nursing a neck injury and didn't play in any preseason games. His opportunity to get in sync with quarterback Alex Smith was missed and may have contributed to a painfully slow start.

Crabtree and Davis took part in a heated one-on-one exchange in early September, and although the reason was never explained, it's believed that Davis, a team captain, was upset at Crabtree's unwillingness to play in preseason games or practices.

Crabtree caught just six passes in his first three games and finished the season with 55 for 741 yards, a slight improvement over his 2009 stats: 48 receptions, 625 yards in 11 games. His route running remains a weakness, and he seldom seemed to be on the same page with QBs Alex Smith or Troy Smith.

Davis signed a five-year, $37-million contract extension in September, becoming the highest-paid tight end in NFL history. His 2010 numbers were a drop-off from the previous season (56 catches, 914 yards, 7 TDs compared to 78, 965 and 13 TDs), but he was still the 49ers' most reliable receiver. With the ball in his hands and an open field in front of him, Davis is difficult to stop. He could be a major weapon in coach Jim Harbaugh's West Coast offense next season.

Josh Morgan turned into a reliable No. 3 receiver, totaling 44 receptions for 698 yards, but Ted Ginn Jr. never really proved to be the deep threat the Niners were hoping to see.

There are unlikely to be any significant changes in the receiving corps, but Crabtree will have to take a significant step forward to prove he's a No. 1 receiver in Harbaugh's offense.

Grade: C-minus.

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