NFL Nation: Michael Crabtree

The San Francisco 49ers' patience with troubled star pass-rusher Aldon Smith is wearing thin.

Smith
ESPN Insider Adam Schefter's report Friday that the 49ers are not expected to exercise the 2015 option on Smith says it loud and clear. The deadline on the option is May 3. Smith would be paid $9.75 million in 2015 if it is exercised. However, it is only guaranteed by a major injury and it could be pulled.

If the 49ers don't exercise the option, he will be a free agent after the 2014 season. If the 49ers then decide to give him the franchise tag, it would likely be in the $12 million to $13 million range.

Here's the bottom line: Not exercising this option isn't the prudent football decision. But the 49ers' frustration level with Smith, 24, apparently is so extreme that the best football decision may not be the focus here. If the 49ers do not exercise this option, it will mean they have lost faith in Smith and do not plan to have a long-term relationship with him.

Perhaps the 49ers are deciding public perception is more important than football in this case. Although it is low risk, exercising the option would be a sign Smith is being rewarded. With all the negative news surrounding him, it appears he has not earned a reward.

Smith's troubles escalated last Sunday when he was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport and booked on a charge of false report of a bomb threat. He has yet to be formally charged. Smith is also facing felony gun charges and his second drunken driving charge since he entered the NFL in 2011. Smith missed five games last season while he was in a treatment center. There is a strong possibility he will face NFL discipline this season.

If the 49ers, indeed, stay away from this option, it is a strong sign Smith will not be with the team for the long-term and the team will instead spend on the long-term contracts of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, receiver Michael Crabtree and perhaps guard Mike Iupati. All three players are entering the final season of their deals.

Also, if the 49ers don't exercise this option, expect them to seriously consider taking a pass-rusher early in next month's draft because Smith will no longer be a big part of their future.
Brandon Lloyd is not the big-hit free-agent addition that DeSean Jackson or Julian Edelman would have been for the San Francisco 49ers.

Lloyd
But for the one season he has signed for, Lloyd might be able to help the team. Lloyd, 32, didn't play last season, but he did enjoy late-career success. He led the NFL in receiving yardage in 2010 with Denver and had 74 catches for the Patriots in 2012.

So there is reason to believe Lloyd can help the 49ers as a No. 3 or No. 4 receiver. But if he doesn't have a good camp, I could also see the 49ers moving. This is a low risk, look-see deal.

Let's take a look at whom the signing can affect:

Who could be affected: Kassim Osgood and Jonathan Baldwin. If Lloyd makes the team, Baldwin will likely be out. The team re-signed Osgood this offseason because he is a huge part of the special teams. But the 49ers will likely not keep more than six receivers. If Lloyd makes the team, it will be him, Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Quinton Patton and likely a rookie. Osgood would be the sixth man and perhaps become vulnerable, depending on needs at other positions.

Who it doesn't affect: Patton and the team's plans to take a receiver early in the draft. Patton finished the season strong in 2013 as a rookie. The team will allow him to develop as quickly as he can. If he's ready to be the No. 3 receiver in 2014, he will probably get the job. Lloyd and Boldin are 33 and Crabtree is a free agent after this season. San Francisco will take a receiver in the draft, no doubt about it.

The Lloyd signing is simply a chance to see if the team can get a productive season from a veteran who has produced recently.
It’s no secret that the San Francisco 49ers are a strong candidate to draft a wide receiver early.

The position is one of the team’s few needs. They have looked at receivers throughout free agency, and there is a report that the team is trying to arrange a visit with receiver DeSean Jackson, who is, by far, the best receiver currently on the market.

So, it’s not a surprise that, in this Insider piece, ESPN draft analyst Kevin Weidl identifies the 49ers Insider as one of the teams who most need to address the receiver position in the draft. Here is what Weidl had to say about the 49ers’ needs:
[+] EnlargeMartavis Bryant
Tyler Smith/Getty ImagesThe 49ers would offer a low-pressure environment for Clemson receiver Martavis Bryant.
The Niners were able to work out a two-year deal to keep WR Anquan Boldin in San Francisco. Combined with Michael Crabtree, San Francisco has a pair of strong, reliable pass-catchers on the perimeter. However, there is a need to add a receiver who can pose a legitimate vertical threat outside the hashes. This not only would take pressure off Boldin and Crabtree but also free up TE Vernon Davis, who is one of the top pass-catchers at the position in the league.

With six picks within the top 100, general manager Trent Baalke will have plenty of draft options in May. Baalke can address the depth along the defensive line or take a cornerback with the 30th pick in the first round and still have plenty of ammunition to find a receiver on Day 2.

San Francisco has three picks in the third round, and Clemson's Martavis Bryant is an intriguing fit at that point. The 6-foot-4, 211-pound receiver has a loose, flexible frame and the speed to stretch the field vertically. He wasn't an ideal fit within Clemson's offense, has dealt with drops and comes with some immaturity concerns. However, his flashes on tape and upside are hard to ignore.

I've said for a few months that Bryant compares favorably to the late Chris Henry, who was a receiver for the Bengals. Much like Henry, who was a vertical complement to Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the late 2000s, Bryant could serve in a similar role to Boldin and Crabtree.

This would be an ideal situation for Bryant to land. He won't have the pressure of stepping in as a No. 2 receiver right away, which could end in him disappointing a team that drafts him earlier with those types of expectations. In this scenario, Bryant would have time to develop and mature while providing strong-armed quarterback Colin Kaepernick with a vertical threat on the perimeter.

Other Day 2 options for San Francisco could include Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin (should he fall), Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews and Rutgers' Brandon Coleman, who currently sits with a fringe Day 2 grade.

Weidl is right. The position is stacked and the 49ers have options. Somewhere early, they will be able to address the position. In another Insider piece, Todd McShay looks at some draft prospects who could fit on the 49ers’ defensive line. Insider
There is no doubt the San Francisco 49ers are interested in adding a receiver.

Johnson
They checked in on several during free agency and the position is expected to be an early priority in the May 8-10 draft. So it’s no surprise that in an Insider piece, Field Yates, while proposing five trades that makes sense, explains why he thinks the 49ers should acquire a receiver. Insider

In Yates’ first proposal, he has the 49ers trading for Houston receiver Andre Johnson. He has the 49ers sending the Texans second- and fifth-round picks to the Texans for Johnson.

Here is Yates' reasoning for the 49ers making this swap:
In need of a wide receiver -- and with 11 picks in this draft -- the 49ers would be well-served to add Johnson. He has a manageable base salary of $6.5 million for 2014, an amount for which San Francisco could find cap space. The 49ers have a deep and talented roster, and while draft picks can result in young, affordable talent, the truth is there aren't that many spots available on the 53-man roster in San Francisco. Johnson brings a vertical presence to the perimeter passing game and would make an already Super Bowl-caliber team that much scarier.


My thoughts? Again, like Yates wrote, don’t expect it to happen. But I can see why he is proposing it. For the short term, this would make the 49ers very difficult to defend and make the offense more explosive. A receiving trio of Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Johnson, along with tight end Vernon Davis, would give quarterback Colin Kaepernick all kinds of options. It would be a pretty nice to way to attack Seattle’s super secondary as well. So, while this proposal is likely more fantasy than reality, it seems plausible from a need standpoint.

Nearly a third of the league inquired about receiver DeSean Jackson, but not all the teams are known. Two of those teams reportedly have fallen out of the race for Jackson -- and both have coaches who previously worked with him (Andy Reid in Kansas City and Marty Mornhinweg with the New York Jets). The assumption is that this sends up red flags about Jackson; that’s not necessarily the case.

And it’s hard to get a good feel on who is really interested. Oakland and Washington definitely are, though to what extent remains to be seen. Jackson arrives in Washington Monday and will visit Tuesday. Thus far, it’s his only reported visit.

San Francisco’s name came up when Jackson was on the trade block and the 49ers had expressed interest in free-agent wide receiver Golden Tate, among others, before he signed with Detroit. So it would make sense that they’d at least inquire about Jackson. Tampa Bay has said they'd take a look, though it was a rather tepid endorsement.

Here’s a little handicap of some teams that have expressed interest or reportedly want to get in the race:

Washington Redskins
Cap space: Approximately $7 million
Why he’d consider: It’s a premier market in a premier conference. Oh, and they get to play the Eagles twice a year. The Redskins would have a lot of speed offensively with Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts and Jordan Reed and would be a major threat down the field. Add to it an athletic quarterback who can extend plays and the off-schedule explosions would increase. Robert Griffin III’s deep-ball ability will be important -- and his ability to extend plays. Jackson’s agent, Joel Segal, has definitely taken quarterback play into consideration in the past with his receivers. If Jackson is forced to take a one-year, prove-it deal, this especially would be a factor.
Why he wouldn’t: Because other teams can offer more. Washington can’t compete if Jackson’s strong desire is to return to the West Coast and play for the team he grew up rooting for (Oakland). If they want a more proven coach, San Francisco and Tampa Bay have to be a consideration (if the Bucs are strongly interested, which is debatable). And if San Francisco truly is interested, then the 49ers clearly would offer him a better chance for team success. The Redskins still have other needs to address so they can only spend so much, and it's hard to gauge how aggressive they'll be. But the fact that they have the first visit says something.

Buffalo Bills
Cap space: Approximately $13 million
Why he’d consider: They have more cap room than most teams, so they could offer the sort of contract that could get it done now -- if they wanted to go that high. They need what Jackson provides (though many teams do).
Why he wouldn’t: The Bills aren’t a marquee team and their quarterback situation is questionable. EJ Manuel started 10 games as a rookie and showed flashes, but remains unproven. That has to be a strong consideration. None of their receivers had more than 597 yards last season, so how secure could you be? They have a good young talent in Robert Woods, a solid receiver in Stevie Johnson (nagging injuries, however) and a fast young guy in Marquise Goodwin. But that’s not exactly a Hall of Fame trio. The draft has to be an attractive option, so that could limit what the Bills would be willing to offer.

Oakland Raiders
Cap space: Approximately $15 million
Why he’d consider: Because the Raiders were his favorite team growing up and he played college ball at nearby Cal. Jackson is a West Coast kid, and if his desire to return there is strong, then it will be hard to top. The Raiders need help at receiver so Jackson would fill a big hole. Also, the Raiders have more money than the other teams reportedly interested thus far.
Why he wouldn’t: The Raiders have a wait-and-see approach going on and, while they’d like him, they won’t overspend. So if another team is more aggressive, then Jackson could end up elsewhere. Also, other than going back to California, the Raiders aren’t exactly an attractive franchise. Their coach, Dennis Allen, will enter the season on the hot seat and their quarterback, Matt Schaub, is not known for throwing deep all that often. At this point, it’s uncertain if he remains a quality starting quarterback.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cap space: Approximately $12 million
Why he’d consider: They have a potentially strong structure with new coach Lovie Smith. He’s a proven coach in the first year of his regime so he’ll be around several years at least. The Bucs have another explosive receiver to pair with Jackson in Vincent Jackson. Both are dangerous down the field. Oh, yeah, and they have the cap room to absorb a bigger contract.
Why he wouldn’t: Smith’s history suggests building around the run game and the defense. Also, they have a journeyman starting quarterback in Josh McCown and a second-year guy in Mike Glennon, whom the new coach did not draft (and replaced right away). So there are questions at this spot. Their interest is said to be lukewarm, so it’s hard to imagine them overspending for Jackson.

San Francisco 49ers
Cap space: Approximately $4 million
Why he’d consider: It’s the best team, it’s near where he played college ball and it puts him back on the West Coast. They need a receiver who can stretch the field to pair with Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. Jackson would provide that and then some. They also have a big-armed quarterback in Colin Kaepernick who can let Jackson run under the ball and remind everyone of his explosiveness. Unlike Washington, the 49ers also have a defense that plays at a championship level, so if Jackson wants to produce and win, this could be the stop.
Why he wouldn’t: The 49ers were reportedly interested in pursuing a trade, according to Pro Football Talk. But their cap number isn’t high and they already have talent at receiver. They could opt for the draft, which is deep at this position and has a few players with Jackson-like qualities (though no one can match his acceleration on deep balls). Hard to know what the reported friction with the 49ers between general manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh means for the future of either person and, subsequently, a guy like Jackson.
Thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' three-year extension through 2017 of fullback Bruce Miller on Thursday:

Miller
Smart move: These are the types of signings good teams make. Miller was to be a free agent next year. But as they did with center Daniel Kilgore, the 49ers secured Miler early.

Miller is one of the best fullbacks in the NFL. He is very versatile. He is an outstanding blocker and a reason why the 49ers move the ball so well on the ground. He also has a role as a receiver and as a short-yardage back. He is only getting better. San Francisco missed Miller when he broke his scapula in Week 15 and was out for the rest of the season. Miller said Thursday he is completely healthy.

Popular move: The former seventh-round pick is a great player off the field. He is very popular in the locker room. Teammates love his work effort. He's the type of guy who mixes well with every part of the locker room. He is also a fan favorite for the same qualities. Again, this is the type of player who teams keep.

Switch worked: Miller was a defensive end at Central Florida. He had no idea he'd become a fullback -- until 49ers running backs coach Tom Rathman called him the day before the draft.

The next thing Miller knew he was being taken by the 49ers in the seventh round and moving to the other side of the ball. It kind of worked out nicely.

“It's been a long journey and a lot of hard work,” Miller said Thursday. “But it's been blast and I couldn't have planned it out any better than what has happened.”

Culliver likely next: Don't be stunned if the 49ers work out an early deal with cornerback Chris Culliver. They have designated him as a priority as they did with Miller. There will be high-dollar discussions with Colin Kaepernick, Michael Crabtree and Mike Iupati to deal with next year as well, but Culliver, like Miller, may be easier to do. Also like Miller, it would be smart to secure a solid, young player like Culliver.
Perhaps the San Francisco 49ers' pursuit of an impact veteran wide receiver is not dead this offseason.

The latest name connected to the team is Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson.

Jackson
Earlier Tuesday, ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported that the Eagles were not necessarily shopping the dynamic receiver but they would be willing to listen. Later, CSN Philadelphia reported that the 49ers and the Patriots called about Jackson. The report stated that the Eagles would like at least a third-round pick for Jackson, who starred at nearby Cal.

Do I believe the report? You bet.

There's no doubt the 49ers are interested in receivers, and general manager Trent Baalke can be aggressive. They were connected to trade talks last year for receivers such as Josh Gordon and Hakeem Nicks. In recent days, they've been connected to Nicks, Julian Eldelamn (who visited) and Emmanuel Sanders.

Now that I have brought up the idea, do I like it?

Yes. A lot.

The 49ers don't have a lot of needs. However, a speed receiver is at the top of the list along with a cornerback. Jackson would answer half of that problem as much as any receiver the 49ers could get at the No. 30 pick. Jackson, 27, is coming off a huge season with 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns.

The addition of Jackson would make the 49ers offense -- and quarterback Colin Kaepernick -- wildly dangerous. A combination of Jackson, Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis would make the 49ers a defensive coordinator's worst nightmare. Add in a promising receiver in Quinton Patton, one of the league's most consistent run games and Kaepernick's dual-threat abilities and the possibilities are limitless.

If the 49ers are going to bypass Super Bowl champion Seattle in the NFC West, it will be because they have improved enough on offense to overtake the Seahawks' defense. This trade could do the trick.

There are obstacles, of course. Jackson has a big price tag, but his contract is not guaranteed so the 49ers can get out of it. That could come into play since they have big-money deals looming with Kaepernick, Crabtree, pass rusher Aldon Smith and guard Mike Iupati.

But there are reasons to think the 49ers could make a Jackson trade work for the short term. Let's face it, the short term is all that really matters right now for a team that has been to three NFC title games and a Super Bowl, and saw their last two seasons end with their offense in the red zone with a chance to win.

The 49ers are in business to win a Super Bowl right now. Adding a player like Jackson for a reasonable compensation package (the 49ers are set to have 11 picks and up to six in the first three rounds) makes perfect sense.
Let’s look deeper into the San Francisco 49ers’ interest in free-agent receivers Julian Edelman of New England and Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants.

Odds of landing them: There is competition. The Patriots want Edelman back and Cleveland has been connected to him as well. Nicks is visiting Indianapolis on Friday. Carolina is also interested. The 49ers don’t have a ton of salary-cap room, so they have to get creative in a deal with either player.

Nicks
Edelman
Who else is out there if Edelman and Nicks don’t end up with 49ers: The top available receivers include Steve Smith, James Jones, Santonio Holmes, Sidney Rice, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerome Simpson.

Who is the best fit? Probably Nicks because he is an outside receiver. Landing him on a short-term deal to see if he can become a top-notch player again could be smart. Don’t get me wrong; Edelman is good as well. You don’t catch 105 balls in a season if you’re not talented. But Anquan Boldin is essentially a slot guy as well. Still, I’m sure the 49ers could find ways to make it work.

How Crabtree, Boldin and the draft figure: Crabtree is a free agent next year and Boldin is 33. So, even if the 49ers sign Edelman or Nicks, I can still see them taking a receiver early in the draft.

Kaepernick factor: I’m sure quarterback Colin Kaepernick is paying attention. This passing offense could be nasty with Boldin, Crabtree, tight end Vernon Davis and Nicks or Edelman. It would open it up. It could also behoove Kaepernick to wait to get his contract done until next year. He could put up big numbers with another top weapon.

Should Seattle worry? Yes. The 49ers must get better on offense to beat Seattle. That was the reason why the 49ers couldn’t overtake Seattle in 2013. A big-time offensive weapon could even the playing field.

Scout's thoughts: “I was a little surprised to be honest, especially after the re-signing of Boldin. Quinton Patton also shows some promise, but this would be a heck of a receiver corps if is Patton is your No. 4. I would think if they were in the market for WR though, that they would be looking for a pure speed guy, which isn't Nicks or Edelman.” -- ESPN analyst Matt Williamson
The NFL deadline for teams to place the franchise tag on players expired Monday without the San Francisco 49ers applying it.

That’s no surprise. It would have been a surprise if the 49ers did apply the tag.

The team’s top free-agent priorities, after re-signing receiver Anquan Boldin on Monday, are safety Donte Whitner, kicker Phil Dawson and cornerback Tarell Brown. It simply did not make any financial sense to tag any of these players. Still, the 49ers want these players back and will continue to work toward deals with them before free agency starts on March 11.

Next year, perhaps, will be a different story. They have big-name free agents looming in the form of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, pass-rusher Aldon Smith and receiver Michael Crabtree. All three are priorities. Kaepernick could get a new deal this offseason. However it shakes out, I could see one of these players getting tagged this time next year.
Sunday has been a promising day for the San Francisco 49ers on the wide receiver front.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting the 49ers and veteran receiver Anquan Boldin are closing in on a deal that will keep the 33-year-old free agent in San Francisco. Earlier this week, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said re-signing Boldin was the team’s top priority in free agency.

I’d expect Boldin to sign a short-term deal, perhaps for two years. Boldin became a critical piece of the 49ers’ offense after being acquired in a trade with Baltimore last year.

Playing opposite a healthy Michael Crabtree in 2014 makes Boldin even more dangerous. He shined when Crabtree came back from an injury in Week 12.

With a deal with Boldin close to wrapping up, receiver likely will be a position the 49ers use a top pick on. Going into this weekend’s NFL combine, the position was considered one of the strongest in years. The receivers began drills on Sunday, and they were not disappointing.

Scouts and reporters are raving about their showing. One receiver who the 49ers may have their eyes on -- Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks -- was the star of the show. Cooks ran an unofficial 4.30 40-yard dash. In addition to being a speedster, Cooks, from northern California, has strong hands and is a good route runner.

He was considered a possible late-round pick. Now, the 49ers may have to move up from No. 30 to get him. They have the means in the form of extra draft picks.

Sunday may have been part of the beginning stages of the 49ers’ shoring up their 2014 receiver position.
Hearing that star inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman might miss half the season because of his torn ACL was certainly interesting news Thursday.

However, it shouldn't be shocking. San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said while he wouldn't count Bowman out for Week 1, midway through the season is more realistic. Harbaugh is simply being cautious and showing that Bowman will not be rushed back. It's the right approach.

Bowman hasn't suffered a setback. The normal ACL recovery time is 6-9 months from the time of surgery. Bowman had surgery Feb. 2 so the second half of the season would be the right target date.

The 49ers have experience with starting a season without a key player. Receiver Michael Crabtree missed the first 11 games of the season while recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered in May. The 49ers offense badly missed Crabtree.

I think the team will handle this situation better. They are deep on defense and Bowman will not miss as much time.

Michael Wilhoite did a nice job while playing for an injured Patrick Willis for a short time last season. He will likely get the first crack at replacing Bowman, although I could see the team adding a veteran to provide options and depth while the team waits for Bowman's return.

49ers well positioned to improve

February, 18, 2014
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One of the unique things about the San Francisco 49ers is that not only have they become one of the NFL’s elite teams but they are also well positioned to remain atop the league.

The 49ers -- who have been to the NFC title game the past three seasons -- are fantastic health as a franchise. They are young, they have managed the salary cap well and they are looking at having 12 draft picks in May, so there is plenty of ways the 49ers can improve.

In fact, in an Insider piece, ESPN's Mike Sando believes the 49ers are positioned to improve more than any team in the NFL this offseason. Insider That’s pretty scary considering they are coming off a 12-4 season.

Here are some of Sando’s thoughts:
"The 49ers have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, even though nine of their league-high 16 Pro Bowl players are either specialist, players headed toward free agency, potential cap casualties or coming off injury. Most of the team's best players remain under contract for at least another season. Re-signing receiver Anquan Boldin is realistic but not essential now that Michael Crabtree is healthy. Keeping strong safety Donte Whitner might be tougher from a cost standpoint. ... Having additional choices in the second and third rounds gives San Francisco flexibility. Last year, the team parlayed a similar situation into a quick move up the draft board for safety Eric Reid. I wouldn't be surprised to see San Francisco strike similarly for a cornerback this year."


I agree with Sando that this team has a chance to get better. I don’t expect any earth-shattering veteran acquisitions. I think the 49ers want to keep their own priority free agents in the form of Boldin, Whitner and kicker Phil Dawson.

I think the real noise San Francisco can make is in the draft. I can see the 49ers making a big move up to grab a top-rated receiver or defensive back. This is a team with few needs. I can’t see more than five or six draft picks among the 53-man roster. So, adding an instant impact player could make this team even more dangerous in 2014.
video
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 4
Preseason Power Ranking: 2

Biggest surprise: The impact that Michael Crabtree's injury and then his return had on the team. When Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles in May, the 49ers knew it would affect their offense. But his absence was felt dramatically during the 11 games he was out. The 49ers had essentially nothing behind receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis in the passing game. However, when he returned Dec. 1, the 49ers were instantly a better, more varied, dangerous offense. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was more confident. The difference was stark.

Biggest disappointment: The loss at New Orleans on Nov. 17. The 49ers appeared to have sealed the game when linebacker Ahmad Brooks sacked and forced New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees to fumble late. But Brooks was called for a questionable personal foul. The Saints rallied to win. It was a major storyline in the NFL that week. Had the 49ers won, they would have finished 13-3, won a tiebreaker over Seattle in the NFC West and would not have had to play at Seattle in the playoffs.

Biggest need: The 49ers are deep. They don't have many holes. But they can use another young receiver. Boldin is 33 and a free agent. Fourth-round pick Quinton Patton looks promising, but San Francisco will likely take a speed receiver early in the draft. Expect the team to take a cornerback fairly early as well. The 49ers need to develop a young player there.

Team MVP: Inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman. The 25-year-old had an amazing season. He is an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate. He was dominant in virtually every game. He is a special playmaker. It was a sad sight seeing him being carted off in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss at Seattle with a major knee injury. Bowman is expected back next season. The 49ers need him.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Jim Harbaugh took the high road on the subject Richard Sherman on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Sherman took attention off the Seattle Seahawks' thrilling 23-17 victory over Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game when Sherman verbally attacked 49ers standout receiver Michael Crabtree, calling him “sorry” and "mediocre” right after the game.

Sherman saved the win for the Seahawks when he deflected an 18-yard pass from Colin Kaepernick that was intended for Crabtree in the end zone with 22 seconds left. It was intercepted by Seattle linebacker Malcolm Smith, sealing the game.

Harbaugh -- who coached Sherman at Stanford -- was asked about the situation Tuesday in his season-ending news conference. He didn’t have much to say.

“I did not see the interviews,” Harbaugh said. “I did not sit down and watch the interviews from the game. And whatever did take place, let those be judged how they’re judged.”

In other 49ers news:
  • The 49ers signed six of their eight practice squad players to contracts for the 2014 season. They are tackles Carter Bykowski and Al Netter, receivers Devon Wylie and Chuck Jacobs, defensive tackle Mike Purcell and defensive back Dax Swanson. The unsigned practice squad players are quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson and running back Jewel Hampton.
  • Harbaugh said he expects defensive lineman Tank Carradine, a second-round pick last year, and fourth-round pick Marcus Lattimore to contribute to the team in 2014. Both players were recovering from torn ACLs in 2013.
The Twitter world has exploded with comments about Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in response to his controversial words Sunday about 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree after Seattle’s 23-17 victory in the NFC Championship Game.

Here are some of the reactions across the country from other current and former NFL players, along with ESPN reporters and broadcasters, to Sherman’s rant and his on-field actions at the end of the game:

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