Crabtree past haunting drops, focused on team goal


Crabtree past haunting drops, focused on team goal

SANTA CLARA -- Receiver Michael Crabtree's first playoff touchdown came in the first quarter of his first playoff game.But Crabtree, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2009 draft, was not remotely satisfied with his performance Saturday in the 49ers' 36-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC divisional round.While Crabtree caught four passes for 25 yards and a touchdown, he also failed to hold onto three other catchable passes from quarterback Alex Smith."That's not normal for me to drop the ball," Crabtree said Friday. "But two or three drops, it haunted me. I couldn't sleep. But at the same time you just have to put that behind you, and just go catch the ball."
Crabtree should have plenty of opportunities on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants.Tight end Vernon Davis torched the Saints with seven receptions for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Davis figures to be the focus of the Giants' pass defense. Crabtree, who had team and career highs with 72 catches for 874 yards during the regular season, is likely to see a lot of single coverage against the Giants."My responsibility is big every game because I'm a receiver," Crabtree said. "There's a lot on my shoulders to just go out and play. That's all I can tell you."Crabtree, who came to the NFL after a prolific college career at Texas Tech, has surprised some with his willingness to play without the ball.His block on Saints cornerback Tracy Porter was not as impressive as those thrown by Kyle Williams or Joe Staley, but it was every bit as important to open the way for Smith's 28-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.After entering the league with the reputation as a "diva," Crabtree has clearly bought into coach Jim Harbaugh's blue-collar mindset."It's really helped us focus on the team," Crabtree said. "Anything to make the team better, everybody is doing - blocking, catching the ball, trying YAC (yards after catch), being a decoy. However you want to call it. We've just been doing our job."When asked this week what kind of season Crabtree had for the 49ers, Harbaugh answered, "Michael's had a 14-3 year as a receiver."And with one more victory, Crabtree will be one step closer to what drives him, he said."I look at our record," Crabtree said. "I don't really look at my stats. I look at the record. My goal is to win a Super Bowl. I'm just doing whatever it takes to win."

LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’


LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’

LeBron James is an avid football fan. He's now an even bigger Colin Kaepernick fan than the sport. Following the Cavaliers' practice on Sunday, James opened up on Kaepernick and his absence from the NFL. 

"I've commended Kap, and for him to sacrifice everything for the greater good for everyone, for what he truly believed in, the utmost respect to him," James said to ESPN. "Obviously he had a vision like Martin Luther King and like some of our all-time greats that people couldn't see further than what they were doing at the point and time. And Muhammad Ali and things of that nature."

James believes the masses don't truly understand what Kaepernick was doing when he first took a knee as a protest against social and racial injustices in America. For his actions, James respects Kaepernick choosing his beliefs over his sport.

"When it's something that's new and it's something that people are not educated about or don't understand what your beliefs are all about, people are so quick to judge and people are so quick to say that what you're doing is wrong," James said. "For him to sacrifice the sport that he plays and to sacrifice the things he's done his whole life because he knew what he believed in, I salute him. I salute and respect that."

Add James to the list of those who believe Kaepernick is being blackballed by the NFL for taking a knee last season. The more games he watches, the more James sees the evidence on the wall. 

"I don't represent the NFL. I don't know their rules and regulations. But I do know Kap is getting a wrong doing, I do know that," James believes. "Just watching, he's an NFL player. He's an NFL player and you see all these other quarterbacks out there and players out there that get all these second and third chances that are nowhere near as talented as him. It just feels like he's been blackballed out of the NFL. So, I definitely do not respect that."

Kaepernick, who recently turned 30 years old, appeared in 12 games for the 49ers in the 2016-17 season. Through the air he completed 59.2 percent of his passes and ended the year with 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Kaepernick also added 468 yards and two more scores on the ground. 

"The only reason I could say he's not on a team is because the way he took a knee," James said. "That's the only reason. I watch football every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday night. I see all these quarterbacks -- first-string, second-team, third-team quarterbacks -- that play sometimes when the starter gets hurt or are starters that play. Kap is better than a lot of those guys. Let's just be honest."

For his career, Kaepernick has thrown for 12,271 yards and 72 touchdowns to 30 interceptions. With his speed as a dual-threat quarterback, Kaepernick has also gained 2,300 yards rushing and 13 more touchdowns. 

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals


Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.