49ers beat writer expects plenty of action for Crabtree

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Getting pressure on quarterback Matt Schaub will be critical to the 49ers' defensive success on Sunday, says the Santa Rosa Press Democrat's Matt Maiocco.

San Francisco 49ers beat writer Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat joined Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com for an interview to preview the Texans-49ers Week 7 matchup at Reliant Stadium.

Maiocco is in his 14th year covering the 49ers. He has reported for The Press Democrat since 2000. Rotoworld.com ranked his "Instant 49ers" blog as the No. 2 NFL team blog in the country in 2007, and Maiocco appears as a regular guest on ESPN's "First Take."

Nick Scurfield:Matt, the 49ers were aBrett Favre Hail Mary pass from being 4-0, and then they got beat 45-10 by the Atlanta Falcons heading into their bye. What went wrong in that game?

Matt Maiocco:The first four games, there was a lot of optimism here, and probably the best game they played was the game against the Vikings where they actually lost. They caught some teams that aren't very good. In the case of Seattle, they were very banged up. Of course, the Rams are one of the worst teams in the league. They did have a good win at Arizona, but they were a little bit banged up, too.

They went into that Falcons game expecting to put together a good performance, and things just fell flat for them. They didn't get anything going offensively. Defensively, they'd been able to get pretty good pass rush, which was a concern coming into the season. The pass rush wasn't there. That left the secondary vulnerable and they got some bad breaks along the way, and the next thing you know, they had the worst home loss they've had in a long, long time.

Nick Scurfield:After the way they lost that game, how do you expect the 49ers to try to stop Matt Schaub and this Texans passing attack that's firing on all cylinders?

Matt Maiocco: They have to get pass rush on him. They have to be able to put pressure on Matt Schaub, because I think with Andre Johnson and his speed, I'm not sure the 49ers have anybody in the secondary that can run with him. You've got to look for it from the outside linebackers. You've got to look for Parys Haralsonand Manny Lawsonto come of the edges. They might try sending Patrick Willison a few more blitzes up the middle; Willis right now is leading the team with 2.5 sacks.

{QUOTE}They just need to find a way. They don't have what I would consider a top-flight pass, one-on-one pass rusher who you can just pencil in for double-digit sacks during the course of a season, so they're going to have to find a way to scheme it up. With the bye week, I would imagine defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has really looked at the Texans and tried to find their vulnerabilities in pass protection, and they'll try to exploit those on Sunday.

Nick Scurfield: Let's talk about Michael Crabtree, the rookie who was a holdout until very recently. Now, word is coming from your paper and other Bay Area media outlets that he could start this week. What can we expect from him?

Matt Maiocco:I think what's going to happen is if he doesn't start, he will still see a lot of playing time. They like him a lot. Obviously, they took him number 10 in the draft. They thought that he was going to be long gone by the time it was the 49ers' turn to pick. When they got him on the practice field, he just jumped out at them: "This guy is all that; this is the reason we took him at number 10. He's one of our best players. There's no reason to send any sort of message like, 'You missed training camp, we're going to punish you.'"

They think he can help them immediately, and so they're going to put him out on the field. I think they feel like he's one of the few guys that can take a short pass and turn it into a long gain. We'll see how much exactly he plays; I think a lot will depend on early in the game if he's able to get all of his assignments down pat. But Michael Crabtree will be in a uniform for the first time playing an NFL game on Sunday, and they want him to make an immediate contribution.

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For more, including the latest on 49ers running back Frank Gore, Maiocco's thoughts on 49ers coach Mike Singletaryand his prediction for Sunday's game, listen to the full interview in a HoustonTexans.com podcast by clicking *here.*

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