TAMPA, Fla. -- Michael Crabtree's pent-up exuberance led to clutch catches Sunday and an uncharacteristic penalty in the 49ers' 33-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Crabtree was still bursting with enthusiasm afterward in the locker room, where he explained how he's trying to "catch up" after Achilles surgery. He also downplayed a left-hand injury, stating: "I'm good. I'm good. (It's) football."
Those emotions boiled over when Crabtree couldn't catch up to an overthrown, deep pass by Colin Kaepernick early in the fourth quarter. Crabtree retrieved the ball and chucked it back toward the line of scrimmage, drawing a 15-yard, unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty.
"I was just a little frustrated," Crabtree said. "You don't see too many plays like that out of me. It's just emotions. I want to play."
That play came three snaps after the Buccaneers pulled within 20-14. He atoned three snaps later, when he caught a 14-yard pass on third-and-12.
Coach Jim Harbaugh said the wideout got emotionally "highjacked" but came back and "made it right" with the third-down catch. Harbaugh quipped of the throw by Crabtree, a former high school quarterback: "He's got a heck of an arm."
The throw struck Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David in the back. "That's football. You're going to get penalties," Crabtree added. "There's going to be frustrations. I'm out there winning every play. The penalty, it's like a holding penalty for 15 yards."
After six months of rehabilitating his Achilles and having sleepless nights while thinking about football, Crabtree produced his first touchdown in what was the third game of his comeback.
"I just feel a certain way right now. I wanna play. I feel I've got to catch up," said Crabtree, who had a season-high five receptions for 45 yards. "I don't feel like cheering anymore on the sideline. I feel like catching touchdowns."
Crabtree scored on a 4-yard, sideline pass by Kaepernick to stake the 49ers to a 7-0 lead. He hurt his hand on his final catch, a 3-yard reception to the 29-yard line with 7:46 remaining.
Regarding himself and Kaepernick (19 of 29, 203 yards, two touchdowns), Crabtree said: "It's a good connection, two guys trying to make something happen."
Asked if he gained confidence after facing Buccaneers star cornerback Darrelle Revis, Crabtree replied in deadpan fashion: "Who? "-- They used to be talking about some island (Revis Island)."
--Fullback Bruce Miller's left arm was in a sling after the game because of what he described as a stinger (nerve) injury. Miller is expected to undergo X-rays Monday once the swelling subsides. Although his arm was sore, he didn't believe it was a serious injury.
Miller got hurt on a 10-yard reception to the 9-yard line on a 101/2 -minute drive in the fourth quarter. He was hit by Keith Tandy and fumbled out of bounds. It was his fourth and final reception.
--Safety Eric Reid recorded his fourth interception, and rather than possibly return it for a touchdown, Reid opted to fall down at the Buccaneers 22 with 1:53 remaining. Three ensuing kneeldowns killed the remaining seconds.
"It probably would have been the easiest touchdown of my life," Reid said. "If we scored, it's another kickoff we have to cover, and another opportunity for someone to get hurt. Let's preserve our bodies and go home."
--Linebacker Aldon Smith credited his two-sack outing for staying on the field more than he's done since a five-game hiatus. "More plays, more times to make plays," said Smith, who's tied with Ahmad Brooks for the team lead in sacks at 81/2 each.
--Running back Frank Gore (22 carries, 86 yards) had four runs of at least 10 yards. "Some of them were blocked for three, four (yards) and he was getting seven, eight and nine (yards) out of them," Harbaugh said.
Added Kaepernick: "He is the most underrated running back in the NFL. He does everything for our offense. "-- What he means to this team and what he contributes can't really be quantified."
--Tarell Brown played nickel back in his first action since sustaining a serious rib injury Nov. 17.
-- Anquan Boldin's first catch went for a 25-yard gain on third-and-15, as he broke a Revis tackle along the way. He also had a sensational, one-handed catch among his three receptions for 43 yards.
--Justin Smith raised his season sack total to 51----2 when he lassoed Mike Glennon at the Bucs' 12 for an 8-yard loss. Smith is the 20th player to have at least five sacks in 11 seasons, since sacks became an official stat in 1982.
--Patrick Willis had a team-high six tackles and his third sack this season.
--LaMichael James averaged 10.2 yards on five punt returns. He also had a 23-yard kickoff return.
--Garrett Celek had an 8-yard catch in his return from a four-game, hamstring-related absence.
--Left guard Mike Iupati (knee) missed his fourth straight game.
--Tight end Vance McDonald (ankle) had to sit out a game for the first time in his rookie season.
(c)2013 Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)
Visit the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.) at www.contracostatimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services