When the 49ers turned to Colin Kaepernick as their starting quarterback, they added yet another dimension to an already dangerous team.
Kaepernick made the first start of his NFL career Nov. 19 against the Chicago Bears. He started the final seven games of the season, throwing 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. In four of his seven starts, Kaepernick posted a passer rating of over 100.
And the 49ers’ newfound success at quarterback has allowed wide receiver Michael Crabtree to emerge as a go-to receiver.
Over the past five weeks, Crabtree has been one of the hottest receivers in football. Since week 13, Crabtree is averaging seven catches and 107.6 yards per game. Tight end Vernon Davis, another dangerous weapon for Kaepernick, is averaging just 1.2 catches and 12.2 yards per game over that same five-game span.
The 49ers went 3-2 over the final five weeks of the regular season. Those numbers suggest that teams are focusing on taking Davis out of the game, which has allowed Crabtree to evolve into the true No. 1 receiver in San Francisco.
And on Saturday, Packers cornerback Tramon Williams will face is toughest opponent since Dec. 16 against Brandon Marshall. Williams has been up-and-down during the 2012-13 season. He turned in his worst performance of the season in week 17 at Minnesota, according to Pro Football Focus.
But his +3.6 PFF grade this week at Lambeau Field was his second-highest of the season. With the way Crabtree is playing for the 49ers, the Packers will need Williams to be at his best Saturday night.
ProFootballFocus.com rated Crabtree as the league’s seventh-best wide receiver in the regular season. Williams graded out as the 60th-best cornerback according to PFF.
Crabtree has caught at least seven passes in four of the 49ers’ last five games. Williams has allowed more than three receptions just once over the past five games. He allowed four receptions for 51 yards against Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions in week 14, according to PFF.
So something’s gotta give this weekend when the 49ers have the ball.
In the season opener at Lambeau Field, Crabtree caught seven of the eight passes thrown his way for 76 yards. PFF charged Williams with allowing four of those receptions for a total of 42 yards. But when the 49ers take the field on Jan. 12, their offense is very different than it was in week one.