Crabtree was supposed to come in and help balance out a 49ers offense that has relied heavily on the run over the years. Instead, injuries and inconsistent play have held back the wide receiver and the San Francisco passing game.
However, the 49ers' recipe for success doesn't necessarily call for a potent aerial assault. So what exactly is expected of Crabtree that he hasn't been able to give the team already?
San Francisco wins games with a strong defense and a clock-controlling ground game. And as long as quarterback Alex Smith mitigates his mistakes, the 49ers are arguably the best team in the NFL.
When everything works to perfection, you have a result similar to Monday night's 24-3 road win over the Arizona Cardinals.
The 49ers defense held the Cardinals to 297 total yards (seven rushing yards on nine carries), intercepted John Skelton once and sacked him another four times.
Frank Gore and Co. controlled the clock to the tune of 30 rushes for 112 yards. And Smith went 18-of-19 for 232 yards and three touchdowns.
Crabtree caught seven of those passes for 72 yards and two scores.
With 41 receptions, 440 yards and three touchdowns through eight games in 2012, Crabtree is on pace for his best season as a pro. However, those numbers won't be typical of an elite wideout in this league—especially a player who entered with such high expectations.
When looking at the 49ers, though, the thought of a prototypical No.1 wide receiver can be dismissed. They aren't designed to play football like the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints of the world.
However, Crabtree is in fact San Francisco's top target.
Though he may be able to put up bigger numbers with a different team, it is important for Crabtree to understand that he must continue to do all he can within the 49ers' system to help the team win.
So far in 2012, the four-year veteran is doing just that.