Michael Crabtree has played in the NFL for eight full seasons, all in the Bay Area.
But like a fine wine produced in Napa, near where the Oakland Raiders hold their training camp, the soon-to-be 30-year old receiver appears to be getting better with age.
In two seasons in the Silver and Black, Crabtree has tied or set career highs for receptions, logging his second- and third-best seasons for yards. His 17 touchdown catches over that span rank better than any two of the six seasons he spent with the 49ers combined.
He hasn’t been a different player since heading to the East Bay, but he’s been a much better one.
“He’s been pretty darn good since he’s been here for us,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio told reporters on Tuesday. “He’s been a very reliable target for Derek [Carr]. I think they’re comfortable with the rapport they have.”
It wasn’t that familiarity that inspired hope within thousands of fans during Oakland’s last preseason game, it was Crabtree embarrassing Los Angeles Rams cornerback Troy Hill on a cut, leaving the defender on the ground and the receiver with a lane to the pylon.
— NFL (@NFL) August 20, 2017
So, is Crab due for one of his best seasons ever as a pro?
With new, more effective tight ends in place, it’s definitely possible as he’ll likely garner less attention in the red zone.
“He’s not slowing down,” Carr said. “Crab is a guy that, genetically, he’s going to play as long as he wants to play. It’s not going to slow down for him.”