The potential season-ending Achilles injury to Michael Crabtree could have a huge effect on the NFC West race this season. Crabtree, who had 85 catches for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns last season, was clearly Colin Kaepernick’s favorite target and was turning into one of the better receivers in the NFL. The 49ers do have the talent to overcome the loss. They added Anquan Boldin to the receiving corps this offseason. They have an offensive line built around three first-round picks and a dominant runner in Frank Gore, so they could easily adjust to running the ball more. And they have a great tight end in Vernon Davis, who could become more of a focal point of the offense again. But not having their top receiver will hurt.
The one team that may benefit most from Crabtree’s absence is the Cardinals. In two games vs. Arizona, Crabtree had 13 catches for 244 yards and four touchdowns. In the 49ers’ 24-3 win in Week 8 with Alex Smith as the quarterback, he had five receptions for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Playing with Kaepernick in the final game of the regular season, Crabtree torched the Cardinals for eight receptions for 172 yards and two more touchdowns in a 27-13 victory, and in the process became the first 49er to go over 1,000 yards receiving since 2003.
So if Crabtree does indeed miss the entire season, Arizona will be one of many teams who won’t miss him.