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October 31, 2011
Harbaugh calls Crabtree consummate team player

Michael Crabtree finally got on the scoreboard this season, and one of the first things he did after his two-yard touchdown in the second quarter was hug Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh today noted that Crabtree thought he had scored twice earlier this season - in Cincinnati and in Detroit - but that the officials disagreed on both occasions.


The touchdown, Harbaugh said, was Crabtree's reward for all of the nitty-gritty work that he does that goes unnoticed. In fact, Harbaugh called Crabtree - who entered the league in 2009 with a "diva" label firmly attached to him and who got into an extended contract dispute with the 49ers before his rookie season - "the consummate team type of guy."

"It was great to see his satisfaction," Harbaugh said. "... Because he does so much more for this team that doesn't get talked about outside our meeting room, the way he blocks, his willingness to do what needs to be done. To catch the ball over the middle. Some guys refuse to do that. Not on our team. But Michael sets that example."

Crabtree caught a 41-yard pass from Alex Smith, but Smith overthrew him on two others, including a nicely engineered sideline route in the fourth quarter that, had the throw been on the mark, might have gone for a touchdown.

Harbaugh noted that with Braylon Edwards returning to the lineup, Crabtree was asked to move from the receiver position, X, he had played early in the season, to Z the week before the Browns game and that he did so with no complaints. Harbaugh said Crabtree was particularly impressive in the game against Detroit in so far as making tough catches over the middle, exposing his body and keeping drives alive.

And he understands how important it is to find the end zone every now and then. "I've been in there a few times," Harbaugh said. "It's a great thing."

Harbaugh did not have any details about left defensive end Ray McDonald's hamstring strain. He said the 49ers would have a better idea after the game. McDonald sat out the second half Sunday but was walking around without a limp after the game. He said he'd be fine. If he isn't, Ricky Jean Francois would start against the Redskins.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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