Michael Crabtree is five years into his career with the San Francisco 49ers, but the play-making wideout acts like he's been around for a decade.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman raved about Crabtree's work ethic in the meeting rooms and how his young receiver has been an active participant all season, not just the past four weeks where Crabtree has returned from an Achilles injury to catch 16 passes for 255 yards and one touchdown.
"He's great," said Roman, who likened Crabtree's four-game stint to a preseason of sorts.
"(He's) dialed in, interacts, knows what he's looking at. It's great to have him around, back on the field and in meetings. He's pretty serious. He's all business when it comes to business."
Crabtree has always been passionate about the game of football. He's also known for reaching out for tips from the veteran receivers on his team. Crabtree has been fortunate to play with future Hall of Fame receivers like Isaac Bruce, Randy Moss and now Anquan Boldin.
"A lot of players don't get that," Crabtree said on Thursday. "It's a blessing I've had so many older cats around me to show me the right way. They let me know I'm heading in the right direction."
Roman said he enjoys the working dynamic of Boldin passing his wisdom off to Crabtree.
"Anquan is like a rock day in and day out," San Francisco's play-caller said of Boldin, the 11-year pro, who recorded his sixth, 1,000-yard season last week.
"This guy is such a pro every day.
"Somebody that's had that much success over the course of their career is going to do nothing but have a positive influence on everybody. I know 'Crab' has always looked up to Anquan when he was in college. It's a great deal being able to play with a guy you've always looked up to."
Crabtree considers himself fortunate to be exposed to so many veteran receivers during his short career.
"You don't get to meet too many older guys like that who are straight-forward like that," Crabtree explained.
Moss, for example, is still considered by Crabtree as a friend and mentor.
"I still talk to him every now and then," the 49ers wideout said.
Moss, a current analyst for Fox Sports, recently shared details on his working relationship with Crabtree during a candid appearance on The Peter Schrager Podcast.
Moss played his 14th season with the 49ers in 2012 and forged a bond with Crabtree. While discussing which young players repeatedly sought out Moss for advice, Crabtree's name was one of five names mentioned.
"I've had a lot of young receivers look at me and hopefully I've been able to lead by example and try to lead these young receivers on the right path," Moss said.
In Crabtree's estimation, the experience of playing with Moss was invaluable.
Crabtree looked up to Moss and had no choice but to soak up knowledge.
"Oh yeah, he's Randy Moss," Crabtree said. "That's like my big brother."
So what did Crabtree learn specifically from the outspoken Moss?
What was the biggest lesson of all?
Crabtree wasn't shy around Moss and even ribbed his former teammate about a potential career in the media.
"It's funny," Crabtree began, "I told him he was going to do that when he was done and he told me I was lying.
"He said he was never going to do that and as soon as he was done, he was on TV."
Media work is taking Moss' time up these days, but the former 49ers wideout believes he could still contribute in the NFL.
"If I had to go out here and feed my family by getting back out on the football field, I could go out there and still put up 15-16 touchdowns," Moss said.
"I can still run. I can still catch. I've still got vision. If I still got those things that God blessed me with, why can't I still put up 15 or 16 touchdowns?"
Moss admitted that he had trouble accepting his role in San Francisco, but ultimately felt grateful about the experience of reaching his second Super Bowl.
"Last year was a learning process for me and I learned a lot from my experience with the San Francisco 49ers," Moss said. "I'm appreciative to be able to make that second Super Bowl appearance. I didn't win it.
"I don't have anything bad to say, it was just an experience that I'd never forget. I wanted to go play. I wanted to contribute; I didn't want to be a decoy. I wanted to score some touchdowns."
Moss didn't sign with a team this season and immediately took a position with Fox. Moss has thrived in the media gig, but also pointed to a possible future in coaching.
Crabtree could see "Coach Moss" as a possibility.
"He probably could (coach)," Crabtree said. "He knows what he's talking about. He knows football."
The same could be said one day for Crabtree.
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