Crabtree delivers in crunch time for 49ers

It wasn’t a game-winning drive but it helped punctuate a victory over the Detroit Lions and it’s possible it was a breakthrough performance for Michael Crabtree.

The wide receiver delivered three times on a drive in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s 27-19 win over the Detroit Lions. Crabtree came up with three first downs on third-and-long situations as quarterback Alex Smith kept coming to him.

Crabtree made gains of seven, 16 and 11 yards to move the chains on a drive that was ultimately capped by a 23-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis.

"We sucked it up down the stretch,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. "And the guy who typified it the most was Michael Crabtree."

Crabtree, who started slowly last season after he had another foot surgery during the offseason, now had 13 receptions for 143 yards in the 49ers’ two season-opening victories.

Wide receiver has been a place the team has been seeking improvement. The Niners invested their first-round draft pick on a wideout and added Randy Moss to the mix. But no one can make a bigger contribution that Crabtree if he can maintain a consistent level of play.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune