Crabtree's walk year not up to expectations

Michael Crabtree's season hasn't lived up to his high expectations and has been emblematic of the 49ers' offensive struggles en route to their 4-4 start.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - For a multitude of reasons, the 49ers offense hasn't played very well during consecutive losses to the Broncos and the Rams.

Down on the list behind a struggling offensive line and running game is the play of Michael Crabtree, who said Thursday his contract season hasn't lived up to his expectations.

"I always have high expectations for myself. But, like I said, it ain’t where I want it to be," Crabtree said. "That’s why I work hard every day, that’s why I try to catch every pass thrown my way. Whatever they give me I just try my hardest to work with it. I’ve been here before. You guys see what you’re seeing. I can’t wait to go back out there on Sunday."

Crabtree is apart of perhaps the deepest receiving corps San Francisco has assembled since drafting him 10th-overall in 2009. But having more weapons at quarterback Colin Kaepernick's disposal hasn't translated to increased production for Crabtree, who the team thought would benefit from fewer double teams.

Crabtree leads the 49ers in drops (7) and has the lowest yards per catch number of his career (9.8) after returning from his Achilles tear that kept him out of 11 games last year, including the team's trip to New Orleans, a 23-20 loss in November.

His 3.6 yards after the catch is his lowest since entering the league. He is currently on pace to finish with 64 catches for 724 yards.

In 2012, when Crabtree amassed a career-best 1,105 yards, he averaged 2.55 yards per route run, the third-best number among NFL wideouts, tied with Detroit's Calvin Johnson and above names like Demaryius Thomas and A.J. Green.

This year, Crabtree's averaging 1.33 yards per route, ranking 37th among wideouts, due mostly to the additions of Anquan Boldin, Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd, who are eating into his targets.

The addition of Johnson has further clouded Crabtree's future with the team. Johnson has 356 receiving yards on 28 catches (compared to Crabtree's 362 on 37 grabs) despite playing 234 fewer snaps.

Johnson is signed through 2016 with cap hits over $6 million in the next two seasons. Crabtree will hit the open market this spring looking for a deal worth significantly more than that.

One thing that Crabtree says is not contributing to his down year is his health. He missed some time in Week 4's win over the Eagles with a foot injury, and insists it's no longer an issue. Crabtree has sustained a fracture and stress fracture in his left foot since 2009.

"What you talking about about a foot? I played eight games (four) since then, you talking about my foot? We good," he said.

With the offense averaging just 13.5 points per game in the last two losses, Crabtree hopes his team can turn things around in a pivotal match up against the Saints.

"You just got to get your job done," he said. "It ain’t about the receivers, it ain’t about the tight end, it ain’t about nobody. It’s about the team. We got to get the job done. We got to communicate, we got to make it happen. That’s it."


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