COMMENTARY | Michael Crabtree had a year to remember in 2012, recording 85 receptions for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns en route to a Super Bowl appearance. After a slow start to his professional career, the 2009 10th-overall selection finally lived up to his billing. But despite the jump in production and impact, Crabtree was inexplicably left off NFL Network's Top 100 Players List.
Only active players in the NFL get to decide who they believe are considered the game's best performers. The San Francisco 49ers had nine players represented on the list. Taking into account Crabtree's "breakout" campaign, it's hard to believe he was not ranked at all. Some receivers who made the list include Carolina Panthers' Steve Smith coming in at 84, Kansas City Chiefs' Dwayne Bowe (65) and Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones (26).
Looking solely at the numbers, Smith had 73 catches for 1,174 yards and four touchdowns. Bowe only recorded 59 receptions for 801 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. Their teams did not even make the playoffs.
On the other hand, Jones played an instrumental role in the Falcons' overall successful season. Last year, the sophomore wideout notched 79 receptions for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's one of the game's best receivers who should only get better. However, his stat line was pretty similar to Crabtree's. It's hard to fathom that 93 more yards and one additional touchdown would make that much of a difference in one's ranking.
Analyzing Crabtree's supporting cast also makes his accomplishments more noteworthy. Aside from Vernon Davis, there really wasn't anyone else who could draw attention away from the 6'1'' receiver. Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams suffered season-ending injuries toward the end of the year, and Randy Moss was hardly a factor.
Even after Colin Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith, Crabtree did not miss a beat. Amidst all of the ongoing changes around him, Crabtree continued to produce. His knack for making tough grabs while making defenders miss kept drives going for the 49ers.
Aside from Crabtree's receiving ability, the young wideout was also vital in the run game. Using his size and strength he helped paved running lanes for Frank Gore in the open field. Crabtree was a key reason why the San Francisco made it to the Super Bowl.
His lone 2012-13 campaign was clearly not enough to garner enough votes from his peers. Four-time All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald only had 798 yards and four touchdowns, but still ranked 22nd on the list. Reputation has a lot to do with the rankings, but the voting should emphasize what happened during the past season and less on career achievements.
Crabtree voiced his opinion, tweeting "By me not making the top 100, and some of the names I seen... It's a joke!! It's all good.."
Unfortunately, Crabtree's encore performance will be placed on hold as he suffered a torn Achilles in May, which will sideline him for an indefinite period of time. Now we are limited to our imaginations as to what he could have accomplished playing beside a veteran in Anquan Boldin along with an experienced Kaepernick.
The Texas Tech product got snubbed. However, Crabtree is only 25 years old and still has a long career ahead of him. It will only be a matter of time before we see his name annually on the Top 100 List.
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- Michael Crabtree
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