TAMPA, Fla. – Wide receiver Michael Crabtree has a lot of pent-up emotions from missing the first 11 games of the 49ers' season.
On Sunday, Crabtree's day ran the gamut of highs and lows with his first touchdown catch of the season, a bizarre unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty, and a huge catch that rescued the 49ers from some tense fourth-quarter moments.
“I’m just feeling a certain way right now,” Crabtree said after the 49ers’ 33-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I just want to play. I feel like I got to catch up. Everybody keeps trying to slow me down, and telling me to chill. I don’t feel like chillin’, I feel like playing. I feel like catching touchdowns, catching balls, and making plays.”
Crabtree underwent X-rays for an apparent hand injury, but he said afterward he checked out fine.
Crabtree has now played three games after sitting out the first 11 games of the season while recovering from Achilles surgery in May. He has 11 receptions and he ranks fourth on the team with 153 receiving yards on the season.
When Crabtree caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Colin Kaepernick to cap the 49ers’ first drive of the game, it was the first scoring reception from a 49ers player other than Anquan Boldin or Vernon Davis this season.
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“It was a good job by the O-line sticking in there, hanging in there, blocking, giving him time to extend the play,” Crabtree said. “Good job by Kap with his feet and his arm. I was just trying to get open.”
Crabtree was clearly frustrated at times throughout the game when Kaepernick directed passes at other receivers. On one third-quarter play, Crabtree threw up his arms in disgust when Kaepernick's pass went to Boldin. Crabtree was running all alone on an underneath crossing route.
And Crabtree was open on a deep post when Kaepernick overthrew him in the fourth quarter. Crabtree, who was a quarterback in high school, picked up the ball and threw it back toward the line of scrimmage – about 40 yards away.
The ball struck Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David in the shoulder. And the 49ers were penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Said Crabtree, “Just a little frustration. You don’t see too many plays like that out of me. Just emotions.”
“He knows he shouldn’t have done it,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “What I think was he ran a good route, was open on the post and got over-led and then picked up the ball and got (emotionally) hijacked a little bit and threw it back in there.
“(He’s) got a heck of an arm.”
The play could’ve been a critical mistake. After all, Tampa had just cut the 49ers’ lead to 20-14. And the 49ers were faced with a first-and-20 from their own 10-yard line after the penalty.
But two plays later on a third-and-12, Crabtree worked the sideline and Kaepernick found him for a 14-yard gain. The 49ers went on to hold the ball for 10 minutes, 27 seconds, and took a nine-point lead on Phil Dawson’s field goal.
Crabtree finished the game with modest stats – five receptions on six targets for 45 yards – but he feels like he has returned to last season’s form.
“I feel like I came a long way,” Crabtree said. “All that rehabbing. All those days you can’t sleep at home because you’re thinking about football. And now the day has come for me to go play, and I’m just taking it in stride.”
Crabtree dismissed the notion that Sunday was a good test for him to play against Tampa Bay cornerback Darrelle Revis, a four-time Pro Bowl player.
“Who? Huh? Who?” Crabtree responded when asked about Revis. “Don’t talk to me about those guys. I’m out there playing ball. They used to be talking about some island or something. I didn’t see that.”