NEW ORLEANS — Former Texas Tech standouts Michael Crabtree and Darcel McBath have taken different paths to get where they are today — as teammates on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
A second-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 2009, McBath’s road to New Orleans has been more challenging. Now with his third team in four seasons, the 27-year-old safety and native of Gainesville, Texas, might be facing the proverbial fork in the road in his career.
Conversely, Crabtree is beginning to fulfill the lofty expectations placed on him by the 49ers, who rewarded the wide receiver with a six-year, $32 million contract as the 10th overall pick in the ‘09 draft. The sky appears to be the limit for the 25-year-old native of Dallas.
How McBath and Crabtree arrived in the Big Easy is one thing. How they depart Monday morning following Sunday night’s game against the Baltimore Ravens is quite another.
Two Red Raiders, one goal, both traveling down the highway of life.
“It’s been a long journey for me but things happen for a reason and I’m here for a reason,’’ McBath said. “All of these things happened so I could be here. But whatever happens Sunday and later down the road, I’ll always be a part of the Red Raiders. I’m a Red Raider for life.’’
Crabtree recently experienced a potentially serious bump in that road on the morning of Jan. 14th after the 49ers’ divisional round victory against the Green Bay Packers when a woman accused him of assaulting her in a hotel room.
Eleven days later, following a thorough investigation, San Francisco police determined that no charges would be filed against Crabtree.
“I was disappointed with the allegations,’’ said Crabtree, a two-time All-American at Texas Tech who left behind two years of college eligibility to enter the draft. “But at the same time I had to deal with it. I respect the system and whatever they had to do.
“It’s definitely part of my story and a story to be told. But it will make it that much better if I win this Super Bowl, you know. Just another chapter in the book.’’
Based on the numbers, Crabtree has shown significant progress in each of his four NFL seasons. His catches and receiving yards have climbed steadily, topped by his production this season of 85 receptions for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns.
No doubt, 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be looking in Crabtree’s direction Sunday.
McBath, meantime, is hoping for more playing time against the Ravens beyond his scheduled assignments on special teams. Since being reunited with former Broncos’ secondary coach Ed Donatell in San Francisco, McBath has played backup to the 49ers’ stellar safety tandem of Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson.
“If they ever go down, God forbid, or they have to change a shoelace or something, I’ll be in there for them,’’ said McBath, who played two seasons in Denver (2009-10) and a third in Jacksonville (2011) before signing a one-year, $540,000 contract with the 49ers in July.
“I always think of myself doing something spectacular every game, but I think it’s amplified in this game. Everybody wants to go out there and play their best game. The main thing, though, is I’ve been telling myself just do my job and something will happen.’’