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December 23, 2013
49ers notes: Crabtree revs up in third quarter; Tukuafu fills in at fullback

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SAN FRANCISCO - The 49ers went into the locker room at halftime Monday night trailing the Atlanta Falcons 10-3 and with a total of 61 passing yards.

Three plays into the second half, Colin Kaepernick completed a third-down pass to his right to Michael Crabtree, who turned upfield and nearly matched that yardage on one play. The 47-yard reception took the 49ers to the Falcons' 31-yard line and seemed to jump-start an offense that had managed just 113 total yards in the first half. Three plays later, Kaepernick threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin, and the 49ers never trailed again.

"Good play, good job by Kap trusting me," Crabtree said of the long gain. "We needed to make a lay. I can't really say too much about that -- I was just trying to make a play. "Feel like I should've had a little more energy," Crabtree added with a grin. "But it's all right, though."

 It was only four weeks ago that Crabtree returned from an Achilles' injury that caused him to miss the 49ers' first 11 games. Crabtree finished with five catches for 102 yards Monday -- his first 100-yard receiving game since his return and first since his 109-yard effort in the Super Bowl.

"He's moving pretty good out there right now," said fullback Anthony Dixon.
 
Boldin added six catches for 72 yards, as he and Crabtree combined for 11 of the 49ers' 13 receptions in the game. Boldin's over-the-shoulder, 22-yard catch in the first quarter put him over 1,000 receiving yards for the season, the sixth time he has hit that mark in his career and the first time he has gone past 1,000 yards since 2009.

That means the 49ers have had consecutive 1,000-yard receivers for the first time since Terrell Owens did it in 2002 and 2003. Boldin currently has 1,030 yards with one game to go. Crabtree had 1,105 last season.

Like riding a bike -- Dixon said he wasn't surprised to see Will Tukuafu slide right back into the 49ers' offense this week. This despite the fact Tukuafu, re-signed after the team lost fullback Bruce Miller to a broken scapula in Week 15, hadn't been with an NFL team since the 49ers released him in September.

"Before the game he was like, 'Man, I ain't played football in two months,'" Dixon said. "I told him, it's all good, Will. Just stick to what you do. It's hammer time. I just kept telling him, it's hammer time."

Tukuafu and Dixon helped pave the way for the 49ers to gain 199 rushing yards on 30 carries. Tukuafu in particular took the lion's share of the fullback snaps in the first half despite his recent arrival and the fact he's primarily a defensive lineman, though one who played 90 snaps for the 49ers at fullback last season.

Tukuafu said he and Dixon rotated throughout the week and practices were about "just getting my foot on the ground again." He said he had stayed in shape during the season and picked up the scheme quickly.

"It was really like I never left," he said. "And that kind of goes to the guys in the locker room. ... I just tried to do what I do, open holes and fill the biggest shoes in Bruce's. I was just trying to go out and give it my all."

Manningham missing - Receiver Mario Manningham, who missed two practices last week, was not in uniform for the Candlestick finale. Manningham has been dealing with lingering soreness in his knee for the last three weeks and was sick in the run-up to Monday's game. He missed the team's Thursday and Saturday sessions.

Manningham had four catches for 45 yards against the Redskins on Nov. 25, his third game back after returning from an ACL injury suffered a year ago. However, he's had one catch for two yards in the three games since.

Rookie Quinton Patton took his place in the lineup, Patton's first action since suffering a broken foot in Week 4 in St. Louis. Patton appeared to be the team's No. 2 receiver in that game and had his only catch of the season - for no gain - in the first quarter. Patton did not have a catch against the Falcons.

Et cetera - Vernon Davis was held without a catch for just the second time in his career. The 49ers' tight end was poked in the eye in the second half.

* Mike Iupati, the spear point of the 49ers' rushing attack, was active Monday for the first time since injuring his left knee in New Orleans on Nov. 17.

* Kassim Osgood's 17-yard catch at the end of the first quarter was his first of the year. In fact, it was his first reception since Week 17 of the 2011 season when he was with the Jaguars.

* Kicker Phil Dawson extended his franchise record for consecutive field goals made to 26 with a 49-yard kick on the team's opening possession and 30-yard field goal in the third quarter.

-- Matthew Kawahara, Matt Barrows



MATTHEW 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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