SANTA CLARA — Bad news for fantasy football moguls: The projected high temperature for the NFC first-round playoff game in Green Bay, Wisc., on Sunday is now forecasted at 4 degrees, with an overnight low of minus-18. It should be below zero by halftime, making it hard for frozen quarterbacks and receivers to grip the ball.
The good news: Michael Crabtree and Randall Cobb are back in their respective lineups.
The 49ers and Packers both suffered from diminished firepower for much of the 2013 season. Crabtree spent most of the fall rehabbing from a torn Achilles' tendon he suffered last spring, finally returning to action against St. Louis on Dec. 1.
Cobb fractured his right tibia against the Saints in Week 5 and wound up missing 10 games. Both wide receivers are back for the postseason, much to their quarterbacks' delight.
Before last week's game against the Cardinals, Arizona head coach Bruce Arians said “I do not see the same guy” when asked about Crabtree's post-injury effectiveness.
But this week, San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh described his fifth-year receiver as “fully, fully integrated” into the 49ers' offense.
That's a huge factor for the Niners, and especially for quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who came to rely on Crabtree — some would call it hyper-focus — during last year's Super Bowl run.
Crabtree's impact has been immediate.
He got loose for a 60-yard reception in his first game back, caught a touchdown pass against the Buccaneers on Dec. 15 and gashed Atlanta for five receptions and 102 yards in a hard-fought win two days before Christmas.
When Crabtree was out, defenses were able to lock down on fellow receiver Anquan Boldin. Since his return, Greg Roman's offense looks much more explosive.