Jim Harbaugh must have had brain freeze.
Or maybe he was just delirious after his 49ers beat the Packers 23-20 in an NFC wild-card playoff game at Lambeau Field on Sunday. What else could have made him lose his senses enough to proclaim Michael Crabtree the “greatest catcher” of all time?
It’s OK, Jerry Rice. You’re still the greatest.
No, Crabtree is not the greatest pass catcher of all time. He may not even be better than teammates Anquan Boldin or Vernon Davis. But you can’t blame Harbaugh for his overzealous infatuation with Crabtree.
The 49ers’ passing offense has risen to a new level since Crabtree’s return six weeks ago from a torn Achilles’ tendon. The team is unbeaten in that stretch, and the 49ers’ passing game has averaged 214.2 yards. It’s not exactly Drew Brees numbers, but the 49ers averaged just 173.5 passing yards in 11 games without Crabtree.
Crabtree missed the 49ers’ 10-9 loss to Carolina in November, when Davis was knocked out early with a concussion. With nobody to throw to (Boldin was blanketed the entire game), Colin Kaepernick was sacked six times for 45 yards and finished with 46 net passing yards.
Sunday’s divisional playoff game at Carolina will be different with No. 15 in uniform, Davis healthy and room for Boldin to run his routes.
In four postseason games with Kaepernick as his quarterback, Crabtree has 28 catches for 410 yards (14.6 yards per catch) and three touchdowns.
Crabtree is not the “greatest catcher” of all time. He just makes the 49ers’ passing offense much better.
What to do, watch
• Anquan Boldin
• Michael Crabtree
• Vernon Davis
Weekend poll results
• Fewer than 20: 24%
• 21-30: 60%
• 31-40: 14%
• 41-50: 1%
• More than 50: 1%