The San Francisco 49ers have had some well documented woes with their receiving corps this season.
Michael Crabtree — the team’s 2012 leading receiver –tore his Achilles tendon last spring and only recently became healthy enough to play.
Anquan Boldin came in and quickly became Colin Kaepernick’s No. 1 target, leading the team in receptions (70), targets (112) and receiving yards (958) in 2013.
Kyle Williams became the No. 2 target to begin the season – not including tight end Vernon Davis – but was released over a month ago after more fumble woes and after catching just 12 passes for 113 yards in nine games.
Mario Manningham has only been healthy enough to play in six games, and has largely disappeared since Crabtree’s return three weeks ago. After catching 8 passes for 83 yards in the first three after he came back, Manningham has caught just one pass for 2 yards in the previous trifecta.
The list goes on…
Well, despite all the injuries and various issues that have accumulated throughout the season, the passing game has seen an upswing in recent weeks.
Kaepernick’s numbers are up and Crabtree – in extremely limited action – is now the team’s second leading wide receiver in yardage (153) and touchdowns (1). Yes, Crabtree is the only other receiver on the 49ers, besides Boldin, to catch a TD pass this season.
Crabtree has been playing with a ton of emotion. It manifested itself last week in an odd 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct when he fired back a Kaepernick overthrown pass toward the line of scrimmage and inadvertently hit a Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ player.
Boldin and Crabtree have developed a friendly rivalry in practice and games, according to multiple reports. The two are competing for receptions and Kaepernick is ecstatic to have that kind of energy and fiery behavior on the field – according to a report from Cam Inman at the San Jose Mercury News.
“They’re players that challenge each other in a good way, in that ‘I want to see if I can make a better play than you,’ ” Kaepernick said Wednesday. ”Just the energy of those two going back and forth, it’s something everyone sees, everyone feels. I think it’s very beneficial for us.”
San Francisco (10-4) can wrap up a playoff berth with an Arizona Cardinals (9-5) loss on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks or a win on Monday Night Football against the Atlanta Falcons in the presumed final game at Candlestick Park.