SANTA CLARA, California — Michael Crabtree has had two operations on his left foot since 2009 and missed most of last season because of an Achilles tendon tear. Yet the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver insists he's healthy and says lingering effects have nothing to do with his recent drop in production.
"You see me running on the field 100 percent," Crabtree said Thursday. "What are you talking about . about a foot? We're good, man. That's not even a question to ask me."
Crabtree, averaging 9.8 yards per catch this season, left San Francisco's win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 28 with soreness in his foot and later returned to the game.
A week later he was limited to one catch against Kansas City, something that had not happened in nearly three years.
"I always have high expectations for myself and I am not where I want to be," Crabtree said as the 49ers (4-4) prepared to play at New Orleans on Sunday. "I am going to do the best I can to catch any ball thrown my way."
While the yards-per-catch figure would be a career low, Crabtree is on track for 74 receptions, which would be his second-most in a season. He's also on track for six touchdowns, which would match his second-best in a year.
"It's not about any one guy. It's not about anybody," Crabtree said. "It's about the team having to get the job done. We have to make each snap count, beat the man in front of you and play winning football."
After making a career-high 10 grabs in a loss to Arizona the week before playing the Eagles, Crabtree has been limited to 18 receptions — an average of 3.6 per game at 9.7 yards a catch.
"It's not the first time we've gone through difficult times," Crabtree said. "We have to prove we can play and this week we have another chance to come back and do what we need to do."
The 49ers, who rank 23rd in the NFL in points per game, need to score touchdowns — especially once they get into the red zone. San Francisco ranks last in the league (40 percent) in scoring touchdowns inside the red zone, averaging about three trips per game.
Phil Dawson has attempted as many field goals (18) as the 49ers have scored touchdowns this season. He's made 14 of them.
"When we fall short it starts squarely with me," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "I've got to do a better job getting us prepared, getting us to execute better. In a nutshell, we've got to improve."
Some have focused on the constant shuffling on the offensive line, where Marcus Martin made his NFL debut at center following Daniel Kilgore's season-ending injury.
"We understand the circumstances," Roman said. "Those guys are good football players and we have faith in them. With Marcus, I thought he played pretty darn well. Guys in and out of the lineup, not ideal for the offensive line, but we'll overcome it."
NOTES: LB Patrick Willis (toe) remains questionable, though it seems likely he might miss another game. "If he doesn't start practicing at some point then it starts to move to doubtful," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "It just hasn't gotten much better." Willis went through individual drills only last week. . Glenn Dorsey is getting closer to a return, with Fangio giving the defensive lineman a 50-50 chance of playing against the Saints. . CB Tramaine Brock (turf toe) had a minor setback and was held out of last week's loss to the Rams. "Hopefully this week we'll get him in there and not have to play him full-time," said Fangio, who landed his first NFL job with the Saints. "I feel a little bit at home when I go there."
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