Week Seventeen Analysis: Michael Crabtree's running mate, Mario Manningham, was just placed on IR with an injured knee, meaning that Crabtree's targets can improve even more. Crabtree has led the 49ers wideouts in targets in all 15 games this season, but has seen that total skyrocket since Colin Kaepernick took over. He's averaged almost 11 targets per game in the last four weeks and should see a good portion against the Cardinals this week. Arizona just allowed 68 yards and a score to Brandon Marshall last week and 10 catches for 121 yards to Megatron the week before.
Week Sixteen Analysis: Here's the one stat you need to know about Michael Crabtree. In the last three weeks, Crabtree has had 34 targets, every other 49ers' wide receiver and tight end have combined for 33 targets. Crabtree is officially half of the Niners' passing offense and his 100-yard average over the last three weeks is evidence of that. This week in Seattle, the biggest news for both Crabtree and the Seahawks is that cornerback Richard Sherman's suspension appeal will be held on Friday. With Brandon Browner already in the midst of his four-game vacation, the Seahawks could be without both stud cornerbacks on Sunday night. Even if Sherman is available for Sunday, the Seahawks have yielded 100-yard games to Steve Johnson and Brandon Marshall in the last three weeks, meaning Crabtree could be set for another big day.
Week Fifteen Analysis: In the last two weeks it has become very apparent that Colin Kaepernick's one trusted target is Michael Crabtree. The duo has hooked up for 18 receptions and 194 yards over the last two weeks. Now while we're far from calling Crabtree the San Francisco version of Brandon Marshall, it's interesting to note that Crabtree's 22 targets over the last two weeks are only two fewer than all of the other wide receivers and tight ends combined. Half the passing workload is a fantasy dream come true, especially against the Patriots. While the New England secondary has steadily improved since the addition of Aqib Talib, they've still allowed at least 84 yards to a wide receiver in each of the last five games.
Week Twelve Analysis: The shift from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick didn't seem to phase Michael Crabtree as he scored his fourth touchdown in the last three weeks. All four of those touchdowns have come inside the red zone, as Crabtree's four red zone receptions on five targets now lead the 49ers. Suddenly he's the hottest target the Niners have inside the 20, which should favor him this week as he goes from facing maybe the toughest defense in the league to the easiest this week in New Orleans. The Saints have been passed on 77 times in the red zone this season, which is 15 more times than any other team! The throng of pass attempts has resulted in a league-high 18 red zone passing touchdowns allowed.
Week Six Analysis: Michael Crabtree had over 100 yards and a touchdown last week against the Bills. It was only the third time in his career that he's hit the daily double (the last being in Week 16 of 2010). Crabtree may have the ability to do it twice in a row as he takes on one of the worst defensive backfields in the league, the New York Giants. The Giants are allowing over 17 yards per catch to wide receivers and yielding a touchdown on every sixth reception. Those same Giants made Josh Gordon and Jordan Norwood look like Pro Bowlers. Alex Smith could end up surpassing Brandon Weeden's 291 yards and two touchdowns that he threw last week.
Week Three Analysis: After acquiring Randy Moss and Mario Manningham in the offseason, the 49ers have turned their focus back to Michael Crabtree at wide receiver. Crabtree's 16 targets and 13 receptions are more than Moss and Manningham's combined totals, so it's quite obvious who the number one receiver in San Francisco is. Crabtree's opponent this weekend, the Minnesota Vikings have allowed a wide receiver to score a touchdown against them in 13 straight games, with notable names like Cecil Shorts, Harry Douglas and Dane Sanzenbacher helping to keep that streak alive. While I wouldn't be surprised to see Randy Moss get a revenge touchdown in Minnesota on Sunday, Crabtree will be the featured receiver.
NEXT: #8 MILES AUSTIN