Winning tends to change the storylines surrounding a team.
Michael Crabtree has been seen as an injury-plagued diva for a couple years in San Francisco. Suddenly, he’s developing into a leader according to 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.
“He just keeps getting better and more comfortable,” Harbaugh said on Monday via CSNBayArea.com. “And his abilities are shining through. And he’s a consummate team type of guy, the way he has blocked. The evidence of whatever the team needs him to do, he’s willing to go do.”
Harbaugh isn’t just puffing up Crabtree for the sake of it. When Braylon Edwards came back from injury, Crabtree was asked to move from the split end position to flanker to that Edwards could be at his most comfortable position.
Crabtree, who is a more versatile receiver, was coming off a nine-catch effort against Detroit. He embraced the change and led the 49ers in receiving again versus the Browns, including his first score of the year.
“‘Whatever I can do for the team’ was his approach,” Harbaugh said. “That was his answer when we asked him to do that.”
Harbaugh knows every player should be coached differently. Crabtree needs a little extra positive reinforcement. Harbaugh gave Crabtree a big hug after his touchdown because he knows how frustrated Crabtree has been with a few near-misses.
The key here is that Crabtree has stayed on the field. He’s healthy enough to practice and play every week.
Perhaps it’s the natural maturation of a young receiver. Or perhaps Harbaugh just gets more out of his players than Mike Singletary.