The double-move is a wide receiver’s best friend. He stops his feet or settles down briefly before re-starting in another direction. His opponent is given no advance notice.
“It’s difficult for defensive backs to stop and go going backwards,” said Cardinals corner Patrick Peterson, considered one of the most athletic cover men in the NFL.
Peterson learned – or re-learned – this lesson on his third professional play from scrimmage on Nov. 20, 2011. Then-third-year pro
“That was the last time he got me,” Peterson said, “with the double-move.”
“It’s always a big-time game every time I get the opportunity to match up with him because I know he is going to bring his best, and that’s the same thing I do as well. I’m a competitive cornerback and he’s a competitive wide receiver.”
Crabtree and Peterson meet for the fifth time overall on Sunday afternoon in their teams’ season-finale, with the stage for playoff permutations set in Arizona and throughout the country.
In the players’ past four meetings, Crabtree has won out more often than not. He racked up 27 catches, two for touchdowns, and 427 yards, or 107 per game.
In four games since returning from a torn Achilles this season, Crabtree has caught 16 passes at 15.9 yards per haul-in. Despite coming off a season-high five grabs for 102 yards in Week 16, however, his opponents don’t see the same ol’ ‘Crab.’
“He’s slowly getting back in the groove,” Peterson told Bay Area reporters Thursday. “He didn’t look as comfortable as he did when he was healthy.”
Added Peterson’s coach, Bruce Arians: “I do not see the same guy, but he’s getting really, really close. You can see him getting better every week, and getting confidence.
“You know that Colin (Kaepernick) likes him, and I would like him too if I was the quarterback.”
Peterson, lined up across from Boldin, limited the 11-year wideout to three receptions spanning 28 yards.
Peterson said the 49ers quarterback has, in Crabtree, a pass-catcher with a mixture of their qualities.
“He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he does have exceptional speed,” Peterson said. “Elusive, especially after the catch.”
As for vaunted double-move, Peterson said NFL offensive coordinators typically won’t call on their receivers to run the lengthy route when their unit is backed up in their own territory or already across the 50-yard line.
“The eye in the sky,” he said, “never lies.”