A reach into the NFC West mailbag on this Memorial Day weekend brings us back to the No. 1 topic around here for the past week: receiver Michael Crabtree's recently torn Achilles' tendon and its impact on the San Francisco 49ers' offense.
"One thing I noticed when watching Colin Kaepernick last year was that he seemed to either throw to Crabtree, throw to Vernon Davis or run," Jakob from San Francisco writes. "Could you expand your analysis to see if I'm right? Especially on third down?"
You're right about Crabtree on third down. However, the story was quite different for Davis.
The chart below ranks 49ers players by third-down target rate from Week 11, when Kaepernick made his starting debut, through the Super Bowl. Crabtree leads the way with 26 targets in 64 third-down routes, good for a 40.6 percent target rate. Davis ranked eighth -- last -- with six third-down targets on 61 routes.
Here are the target rates for 49ers players on first and second downs over the same time period (minimum 15 pass routes): Crabtree 37.5, Mario Manningham 32.4, Randy Moss 25.9, Delanie Walker 22.2, Davis 21.6, LaMichael James 20.7, Ted Ginn Jr. 20.0, Garrett Celek 20.0, Bruce Miller 9.4 and Frank Gore 6.8.
The 49ers will need other wide receivers to emerge while Crabtree recovers from surgery. And while Davis will be needed for blocking, the numbers suggest he needs to become a bigger part of the receiving game -- whether or not Crabtree is available.