Wednesday, May 22, 2013
49ers' options as Crabtree has surgery
By Mike Sando
The season-altering and potentially season-ending injury Michael Crabtree suffered Tuesday leaves the San Francisco 49ers with question marks at wide receiver.
Anquan Boldin becomes the most productive healthy receiver available to the team. Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams are coming off injury-shortened seasons.
Marlon Moore, signed from the Miami Dolphins, is the only other wideout on the roster with a reception to his credit last season.
Boldin (65 receptions), Manningham (42), Williams (14) and Moore (six) combined for 127 receptions last season. The chart compares their regular-season totals to the ones Crabtree produced.
Having Manningham and Williams healthy would change the dynamic. Second-year receiver A.J. Jenkins' development also becomes more important. He wasn't needed much last season and failed to catch a pass in three appearances. Coach Jim Harbaugh has expressed high hopes for Ricardo Lockette, who must prove his prodigious physical gifts can translate to consistent in-game performance.
Rookie fourth-round choice Quinton Patton is another option. Chad Hall and Joe Hastings are the other receivers on the 49ers' roster.
Crabtree has already undergone surgery for a torn Achilles tendon suffered in practice Tuesday, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
The 49ers have a couple roster-related options for Crabtree.
They could place him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list when training camp opens, then leave him there while Crabtree rehabilitates. Crabtree would have to miss at least the first six games, which seems like a given anyway. From there, Crabtree could return to game action as late as Week 15 under recently tweaked PUP rules.
Teams have until following their sixth through 11th games to activate players to their 53-man rosters from their PUP lists, or else the players are lost for the season. Once activated, the player can practice for as many as three weeks before returning to game action. That route would seem to have appeal for the 49ers if they thought Crabtree could recover in time for a playoff push.
The 49ers could also place Crabtree on injured reserve, ending his season. Teams can designate IR players for returning later in the season if those players suffered major injuries after the start of training camp. In those cases, the players become eligible to practice after six weeks and play after eight.