SAN FRANCISCO -- Michael Crabtree, showing off some veteran wisdom, didn't actually throw the ball into the stands this time. He had done that last month and the NFL promptly fined him $10,500.

So after Crabtree scored the first of his two touchdowns Saturday, the 49ers receiver looked into the crowd, wound up for a mighty throw ... and decided to just tuck the ball gently to his hip.

There will be no fine from the league office. Still, the fans got their money's worth.

Crabtree hauled in nine passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns, continuing his emergence since being paired with his football soul mate -- quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

"He played great. He's a playmaker,'' Kaepernick said after a 45-31 playoff victory over the Green Bay Packers at Candlestick Park. "You've just got to get the ball into his hands and see what he can do."

Kaepernick, as was his custom all season, looked for Crabtree time and again during times of trouble. He targeted Crabtree 11 times -- more than twice as much as anybody else. (Tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker were second, with five targets each).

About the only time Crabtree struggled all night was when someone asked him after the game to explain his mind-meld with Kaepernick.

"I couldn't say,'' the receiver said, starting and stopping a few times. "It's just something that happens."


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Apparently, it happens a lot. Crabtree finished the regular season with career highs in receptions (85), receiving yards (1,105) and TDs (nine), and he became the first 49ers player since Terrell Owens in 2003 to register a 1,000-yard season.

He should have commanded the bulk of the Packers' defense attention. But with Kaepernick also running wild, Green Bay defensive backs often had to choose.

When they doubled Crabtree, there was a price to pay. (They were doubling him, for example, when Kaepernick decided to tuck the ball and run for a 56-yard touchdown.)

"He's amazing. He's doing it with his feet. With his arm. He's just a playmaker,'' Crabtree said.

The two hooked up for a key sequence in the second quarter, doing their best to keep pace with a Packers offense threatening to put things out of reach. ("A shootout," Crabtree called it.)

On a third-and-goal from the 12, one play after a Kaepernick fumble threatened to ruin a red zone chance, the quarterback spotted Crabtree moving briskly from his left to his right. Kaepernick hit him in stride and the receiver kept on cruising into the end zone for a touchdown that tied the score at 14-14.

The 49ers' next possession had a similar plot line. A taunting call on Kaepernick backed the team up 14 yards -- threatening to ruin a red-zone chance. But after a short run by Frank Gore, setting up a second-and-6 from the 20, Kaepernick spotted Crabtree roaming toward the end zone.

This time, the Packers had the receiver well covered. Cornerback Sam Shields was on him like a cape and strong safety Charles Woodson was closing fast. But the ball found the only place it could -- Crabtree's outstretched hands.

Crabtree had three of his four 100-yard games this season with Kaepernick at quarterback, including a 172-yard extravaganza in the season-finale against the Arizona Cardinals. Throw in Saturday's game, and Crabtree has six touchdowns over his past four games.

Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers coach, marveled at Crabtree's big night, noting that the receiver made a few back-shoulder catches and several others where he created yards after the catch.

"He's really, really like a running back when he gets the ball in his hands,'' Harbaugh said.

Follow Dan Brown on Twitter@MercBrownie.