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49ers' Crabtree fixed on redemption

The SportsXchange

49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree has a bad taste in his mouth. It's there as a result of the way his -- and the 49ers' -- 2012 season ended.

One catch, three yards and a disappointing loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game.

With a chance for redemption Saturday against Green Bay, Crabtree's focus is on one thing.

"I'm really focused on these playoffs," he said. "With how bad I did last year, in my opinion, I feel like I didn't do what I was supposed to do. I feel like I get another chance. We're back again and ready to win."

This time around, Crabtree comes in as the focal point of the passing game. He set career highs in receptions (85), yards (1,105) and touchdowns (9) during the regular season and came on especially strong late and he developed a good rapport with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

"My dude made it happen," Crabtree said in reference to Kaepernick after the final regular-season game. "I'm just going out there, running routes, catching the ball until I make a play."

He makes it sound so simple, yet his production over the final five games of the season was staggering. Over the final five games, he caught 35 passes for 538 yards and four touchdowns - easily the best stretch of his career.

For coach Jim Harbaugh, those numbers weren't necessarily all that shocking.

"It's not the first time balls have gone to him, or he's caught balls or made big plays," Harbaugh said. "This is something he's done for the better part of his career."

The numbers say otherwise, but one thing is clear: Crabtree has now earned the right to be a specific point of emphasis for opposing defenses.

That wasn't the case a year ago.

"We were just talking about opportunity and I said something about that after the game last year and I meant it, you know? Because I'm a football player, this is what I do for a living, and I love it," Crabtree told Bay Area reporters Wednesday. "I feel like this year is different. It's a different year. I feel all we have to do is go out there and do our job, focus on our job, focus on my job. As a whole, we should be all right."

Kaepernick was on the sideline taking mental reps a year ago when the 49ers came up short against the Giants, but even it that role, the magnitude of the game made a definite impression.

"A lot more intense than regular-season games," he said. "There's a lot more at stake."

That said, Kaepernick's approach hasn't wavered.

"Is it just another game?" he asked. "Yeah."
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