Super Bowl 2013: Big Game Could Be Turning Point in Michael Crabtree's Career

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Super Bowl 2013: Big Game Could Be Turning Point in Michael Crabtree's Career
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will be in the New Orleans Superdome next Sunday to decide Super Bowl XLVII. While the result of the game is all that matters right now, the road that each player takes to get to this point in his career is something that can't be ignored.

Michael Crabtree entered the NFL as decorated as any collegiate wide receiver in recent memory, winning the Fred Biletnikoff Award in both 2007 and 2008.

The 49ers rewarded his hard work at Texas Tech by making him the 10th overall selection in the 2009 draft.

The wide receiver's career didn't quite get off to the start that he would have wanted or that most expected, even holding out well into his rookie season. But Crabtree definitely wasn't thrown into a situation that relied on him to make many plays, either.

The 49ers have long been a team that leans on a stout defense and a solid running game to carry the offense. Consistency was the best trait that Crabtree could have brought to the table early on.

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Crabtree has seen an increase in his production since entering the league, however, setting career highs in receptions (85), receiving yards (1,105) and touchdowns (nine) in 2013—including 46 catches, 665 yards and six scores since Colin Kaepernick took over as the team's starter in Week 10.

Under Kaepernick, San Francisco was able to open up the playbook a bit.

Crabtree took the opportunity and ran with it, carrying the momentum into the postseason with 15 catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns in wins over the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons.

With the 2014 season being a player option for Crabtree, next year essentially serves as a contract year. Showing up big in the Super Bowl will be a huge step for the wide receiver to cement his name among the NFL's top targets—especially if the 49ers will continue to be more balanced on offense with Kaepernick under center.

Similar to New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker—who caught eight passes for 117 yards and one score in last week's loss to the Ravens—Crabtree does most of his damage on the field when the ball is in his hands.

Though Crabtree's career is definitely on the upswing, a big game on Sunday against the Ravens could be just what the wide receiver needs to finally turn the corner in the NFL.

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