Michael Crabtree explains Alex Smith still 'my dude'

NEW ORLEANS -- Most San Francisco 49ers players have danced gingerly around the topic of benched quarterback Alex Smith. Not Michael Crabtree.

After Crabtree on Tuesday cited Colin Kaepernick's emergence as the engine behind his breakout season, the 49ers receiver expanded on what sets the second-year pro apart.

"Just more targets, you know. Trust," Crabtree told me during Wednesday's media session. "They're two different quarterbacks. You're talking about a guy that can stand in the pocket, and you're talking about a guy that can do both, a guy that can run the ball, a guy that's a running back, a quarterback ... and he can throw the ball on the run."

Crabtree's honest assessment of the quarterback position might ruffle feathers on another team, but the receiver didn't intend them as a slight to Smith. Crabtree grew emotional when I asked if Smith might be annoyed by his comments leading up to Super Bowl XLVII.

"I talk to Alex every day, man. His locker's next to mine. That's my dude," Crabtree said. "Like, we talk about all kinds of stuff, not just football. The good thing about our team, not too many talk about football every day, we talk about anything but football, because we're like friends. We're brothers. We be around each other every day ... probably more than our families."

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.