Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Drop stats: 49ers' hands not best I've seen
By Mike Sando
The best hands Jim Harbaugh has ever seen on a wide receiver account for two of the San Francisco 49ers' 11 drops this season.
Michael Crabtree, though generally very solid for the 49ers this season, hasn't met the nearly impossible standard his head coach set during the offseason.
The 49ers are on pace to finish with 44 drops, defined by ESPN Stats & Information as "incomplete passes where the receiver should have caught the pass with ordinary effort." That would be 11 more drops than the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns suffered while setting the league high in 2011, when the 49ers had 27.
Delanie Walker leads the 49ers with three drops. Crabtree and Vernon Davis have two apiece. Bruce Miller, Randy Moss, Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter have the others.
The 49ers have suffered drops on 10.1 percent of targets this season, worst in the NFL. They ranked last in 2011 with drops on 6.4 percent of targets. St. Louis has improved from 31st last season (6.1 percent) to seventh this season (3.4 percent).
The Seattle Seahawks have suffered only one drop on 90 targets, attributed to Doug Baldwin. Other passes could have been caught, obviously, but the drop standard recognizes only the clearest cases. That creates a more reliable standard for a subjective stat.
Note that Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald has one drop in 187 targets since the 2011 opener. None of the other 46 receivers with at least 100 targets over that period has fewer drops, according to ESPN Stats & Information.