San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles during the team's OTA practice on Tuesday and could miss the entire 2013 season, Mike Garafolo of the USA Today reports.
The severity of the tear (complete or partial tear) is currently unknown and should be the determining factor for how much time Crabtree will miss. As noted by Garafolo, two players — Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Da'Quan Bowers — returned to the playing field in 2012 after suffering Achilles injuries during the OTAs. Lindsay Jones of the USA Today notes that, in 2011, Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas returned to action seven months after tearing his Achilles.
However, losing Crabtree for even part of the season would be a major blow to the 49ers as the 2009 first-round pick out of Texas Tech is coming off a breakout season. Crabtree established career-highs with 85 receptions for 1,105 yards with nine touchdowns and his involvement in the 49ers' offense increased with the insertion of Colin Kaepernick at quarterback.
Over the final seven starts, Crabtree was targeted on 10 or more passes four times as he caught 41 passes for 595 yards with five touchdowns during that stretch. Crabtree was targeted by Kaepernick on 28 passes in the 49ers' three playoff games, resulting in 20 completions for 285 yards and three touchdowns.
Depth at the wide receiver position has been issue for the 49ers over the previous two seasons, but the team has taken steps to improve that aspect of their roster this offseason. The 49ers acquired veteran Anquan Boldin from the Baltimore Ravens in March and used a 2013 fourth-round pick on Quinton Patton, a 6-foot, 204-pound receiver who caught 183 passes for 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns in a 25-game career at Louisiana Tech. The 49ers' preferred method of cushioning the blow from the loss of Crabtree would be for 2012 first-round pick A.J. Jenkins to have a strong offseason.
Jenkins was inactive for much of last season, appearing in just 35 offensive snaps in three regular season games, according to official playing-time documents. Jenkins dressed for two playoff games, but is still seeking his first meaningful reception at the NFL level. If Jenkins does not develop, the 49ers could consider bringing future Hall of Famer Randy Moss back in 2013. Moss, 36, caught 28 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns in 40.4 percent of the 49ers' snaps last season and added seven receptions for 112 yards in the playoffs.