Jim Harbaugh has seen his share of talented wide receivers. He was a quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts when a young Marvin Harrison was a newbie. Later, as an assistant with the Oakland Raiders, Harbaugh helped groom a roster that included Tim Brown.
This is why it carries weight when the San Francisco 49ers coach tells reporters one of his current wideouts has the best hands he's ever seen, words he reserved for fourth-year receiver Michael Crabtree, according to Matt Maiocco of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. As Maiocco notes, it's worth taking into account the fact that Harbaugh rarely compares his players to performers past or present.
For Crabtree, 24, it marks a growth process. He says he's past the nagging left foot injury that clouded his early days with the team, and he enjoyed a solid season in 2011, with 72 catches for 874 yards. He projects to thrive in a 49ers attack featuring a receiving corps that was beefed up this offseason, with Mario Manningham, rookie speedster A.J. Jenkins and some fellow named Randy Moss joining up.
"I'm taking care of my body and that's from growing up," Crabtree said earlier this month. "You learn how to take care of your body better."
Harbaugh, clearly in a jovial mood, also went out of his way to pump up Moss, who spent last season away from the game after 13 electrifying campaigns.
"He's been great in every single aspect," Harbaugh said. "On the field, he's fast-fast."