When the San Francisco 49ers lost wide receiver Michael Crabtree to a torn achilles during OTAs, it was a huge blow to the reigning NFC champions. A player on the verge of Pro Bowl recognition, Crabtree will now be out indefinitely.
So with the Arizona Cardinals facing the 49ers two times a year, how does this affect their gameplan? It doesn’t.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the 49ers are still stacked at the wide receiver position even without Crabtree, as they have Anquan Boldin, Quinton Patton, and Ricardo Lockette at their disposal. Not to mention Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams, who are both coming off season-ending injuries.
Although none of those players are of Crabtree’s caliber, this does bode well for Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson. The two-time Pro Bowl cornerback has been scorched by Crabtree for 13 receptions for 244 yards and four touchdowns last season. Not good, if you ask me. And although some of those stats were due to Peterson not receiving help over the top, those touchdowns were clearly his fault, as he slipped on one play and just got out-jumped on another.
With Crabtree out, Peterson will now have the tough task of facing Boldin. A player ranked No. 93 on the NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2013, Boldin is much stronger and more experienced than Crabtree.
Peterson will have to win his battles in the red-zone to ensure Boldin is a non-factor. Peterson being a top five cornerback in the NFL, should be able to contain Boldin, as he is quicker, faster, and more athletic. A player that thrives against top competition, Peterson should be physical and aggressive with Boldin off the line.
Whether the Cardinals can win a game against the 49ers remains to be seen. However, with Crabtree out, that definitely increases their chances, as Peterson should benefit and take away half of the field under Todd Bowles’ new 3-4 scheme.