Harbaugh: Crabtree ‘greatest catcher’ ever

Updated: January 6, 2014, 11:18 AM ET

ESPN.com news services

Michael Crabtree‘s big game in the San Francisco 49ers‘ 23-20 wild-card victory Sunday over the Green Bay Packers had coach Jim Harbaugh putting the receiver in a class by himself when it comes to catching passes.

The temperature at kickoff was 5 degrees, with a wind chill of minus-10, leaving many expecting that the freezing conditions would hamper the passing games of each team. 

Crabtree, however, playing in just his sixth game since tearing his Achilles in the offseason, had a huge game with eight catches for 125 yards. Perhaps none was bigger than a clutch 17-yard reception during the winning drive on a third-and-10 pass from Colin Kaepernick with San Francisco at its 31.

“People talked about cold weather and it would be a tough-to-catch ball, but the greatest catcher of all time, Michael Crabtree, catches everything,” Harbaugh told reporters.

“It’s unbelievable. In the northern snowlands down to the tropics and sunny scenes, he’s catching the football. Wherever they throw a football, he’ll be catching it.”

High praise from a 49ers coach, considering Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, viewed by many to be the greatest receiver of all time, played most of his career with the franchise.

This isn’t the first time that Harbaugh has boasted about Crabtree’s pass-catching skills, as he also did so in a radio interview before the 2012 season. But after Sunday’s victory, which set up a playoff game next Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, Harbaugh was much more vocal about his beliefs.

“If my life depended on it and someone had to catch a ball, I’d enlist Michael Crabtree to do it,” he told reporters.

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