While the 49ers wait for Aldon Smith to return, wide receiver Michael Crabtree has been cleared to practice and is expected to be added to the 49ers’ 53-man roster within the next three weeks. The 49ers on Tuesday announced Crabtree will take part in practice for the first time since sustaining a torn right Achilles tendon on May 21 during the team’s offseason program. He underwent surgery the following day.
Crabtree remains on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list, but he is on pace to be activated to the roster in mid- to late-November – a timeline 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh first revealed during a press conference on Oct. 7. On Monday, the 49ers activated wide receiver Mario Manningham to the 53-man roster. Last week, the 49ers waived wide receiver Marlon Moore.
With Crabtree’s return to the practice field, the 49ers have a 21-day window during which they can activate Crabtree to the roster at any point. Barring a setback, Crabtree will available for game action no later than the Dec. 1 game against the St. Louis Rams at Candlestick Park.
Depending on how sharp he looks during practices, however, the 49ers could activate Crabtree at any point before then. The 49ers play Carolina on Sunday, followed by road games Nov. 17 and 25 against New Orleans and Washington.
Crabtree, a fifth-year pro, led the 49ers in receiving last season with 85 catches for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns to become the organization’s first 1,000-yard receiver since Terrell Owens in 2003. Crabtree thrived after the change at quarterback to Colin Kaepernick.
The 49ers will receive a much-needed boost to their group of wide receivers. Anquan Boldin leads the 49ers with 38 receptions for 551 yards. The other wide receivers – Kyle Williams, Jon Baldwin, Moore, Quinton Patton and Kassim Osgood – combined for just 16 catches for 142 yards in the first eight games of the regular season.
- Matt Maiocco, CSN Bay Area