Crabtree's role vs. Bengals

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Crabtree's role vs. Bengals

The 49ers tried to conserve receiver Michael Crabtree this week in the practices before Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Upon being medically cleared to play in early September after recovering from surgery to repair a left foot fracture, Crabtree took part in full practices leading up to the first game of the regular season. That approach didn't work too well.Crabtree played 13 snaps in the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks, then missed the following game, against the Dallas Cowboys, with soreness in his foot.This week, Crabtree was limited in practices but is listed as probable for against the Bengals. Coach Jim Harbaugh said Crabtree has a role in the 49ers' game plan.But what is that role?

Crabtree might not start the game, as Joshua Morgan and Ted Ginn have been full participants in practices. Crabtree could be worked into the mix as the third-down slot receiver. Then, depending on how he looks, Crabtree could see more and more action, along with Morgan, in two-receiver formations.Braylon Edwards is expected to miss approximately a month after undergoing arthroscopic surgery this week to repair a torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee.Kyle Williams, who played 16 snaps Sunday against the Cowboys, will be active. But he'll probably return to his role as the fourth man on a team that has not put more than three wideouts on the field at the same time this season.Here are a few more elements of worth watching in Sunday's game:Offensive plan: Aside from the multiple looks, including a dose of seven-linemen formations, the 49ers' offense has resembled the stodgy philosophy employed by former head coach Mike Singletary and ex-offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. Quarterback Alex Smith has gotten off to an efficient beginning to the season. His 95.2 passer rating is 11th in the league, and his 70.5 completion percentage is tied for fourth. But the 49ers have not asked much from him. Smith has attempted 44 passes (31st in the league) and his 303 yards passing is 29th. Are the 49ers even capable of breaking out into a multi-receiver spread formation and attacking? "(It's) part of the scheme," Harbaugh said. "It's what we're working on. We've got the ability to do it, yes." The 49ers want to provide a threat through the air, so the Bengals can't afford to load the box to stop running back Frank Gore. But the 49ers, clearly, also want to protect Smith, who sustained a concussion last week against the Dallas Cowboys. Rookie backup Colin Kaepernick took more practice snaps this week in practice . . . just in case.Goldson's return: Safety Dashon Goldson got all the practice time this week at free safety, a strong indication he'll return to his accustomed starting role on defense. Goldson missed the final exhibition game and the first two games of the regular season with a knee injury. The 49ers need him to return to his playmaking form of 2009, when he recorded four interceptions, forced three fumbles and recorded two sacks. He might get some chances to take advantage of the inexperience at quarterback with Bengals rookie Andy Dalton making his third career start.Spencer in secondary: Veteran Shawntae Spencer has 72 career starts, but he's been on the field for just one snap of defense this season. He will likely see a lot more action Sunday, but how much? Carlos Rogers' starting job is secure. Tarell Brown started the 49ers' first two games at right cornerback with mixed results. Second-year player Tramaine Brock has worked as the 49ers' third cornerback. "You've got to remember, he (Spencer) got hurt very early on the second practice so he had zero training camp for us," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "So, his body, mind is still in training camp, physically and mentally."Conversion complete:Bruce Miller was the Conference USA defensive player of the year at Central Florida as a defensive end. But Miller was shocked when the 49ers drafted him in the seventh round . . . as a fullback. Miller will see his first action of the season on offense, as he takes over for Moran Norris, who is expected to miss four to six weeks with a fractured fibula. Miller said he has finally gotten accustomed to the idea of playing offense and, even, just saying the word "fullback." Said Miller, "Going through the preseason it was a little bit different. As we've made our way through it's gotten easier and easier." If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section. When I arrive in Cincinnati, I'll answer as many as possible. Thank you.

Reuben Foster: Shoulder recovery on pace for training camp clearance

Reuben Foster: Shoulder recovery on pace for training camp clearance

SANTA CLARA – Linebacker Reuben Foster is likely to be a spectator when the 49ers hold their rookie minicamp next week.

But Foster said he is on pace to be fully cleared for football activity by the time the 49ers open training camp in late July. Recent national reports have suggested Foster would require another surgery on his right shoulder.

“That’s not accurate at all,” said Foster, who took part in a press conference on Friday after the 49ers selected him with the No. 31 overall pick in the draft on Thursday. “I’m fine. I’m on schedule.”

Foster said he sustained the tear of the labrum in his right shoulder during Alabama’s national semifinal game against Washington. He played in the championship game against Clemson with the injury.

He underwent surgery on his rotator cuff that forced him to sit out drills at the NFL scouting combine in February. Foster was sent home from Indianapolis after an argument with a hospital worker while he was waiting to undergo a physical.

There were reports Foster could require additional surgery after he went through the medical re-check in Indianapolis.

“I’m making big progress,” Foster said. “I’ll be limited in OTAs. Training camp, I’ll be full-go, but if it’s my decision, I think I can go now.”

Later, Foster said the 49ers have all of his medical information.

“I guarantee they have enough X-rays, exams, MRIs to know where I stand,” he said. “I had the surgery. They already knew how many weeks I was out.”

Foster dropped in the draft over apparent concerns about his shoulder and character issues. Alabama coach Nick Saban told AL.com on Thursday that Foster did not consult him before undergoing surgery.

"Look, the way we like for things to get handled, that didn't get handled," Saban said. "We have the best doctors in the world in Dr. (James) Andrews and Dr. (Lyle) Cain who operate on most NFL players and his agent chose to take him someplace else. I think (Andrews and Cain) have tremendous credibility.

"So, you know, all these choices and decisions that you make have consequences and I hate it for our players when they do it, but he didn't seek my advice in what he should do. So, if that was an issue, that was an issue. It shouldn't have been an issue but if it was, I don't really know much about it."

Report: 49ers TE Vance McDonald available for trade

Report: 49ers TE Vance McDonald available for trade

Vance McDonald is reportedly on the trade block.

The 49ers tight end is available, according to The Ringer's Michael Lombardi.

In December, McDonald inked a five-year extension, with the final two years being club options at base salaries of $5.5 million annually.

As NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco reported:

"McDonald receives a $7 million signing bonus, according to the figures obtained Tuesday by CSNBayArea.com. His base salary of $2.1 million for 2017 is fully guaranteed for skill and cap.

McDonald is scheduled to earn $3.7 million in base salary in 2018 and $4.2 million in 2019. In addition, McDonald has 46-man roster bonuses of $46,875 per game, which total $750,000 annually if he suits up for all 16 games. McDonald also has a scheduled $150,000              in annual workout bonuses for participating in 90 percent or more of the team’s offseason program.

The deal would make McDonald the 16th highest-paid tight end in the NFL if he collects all of his per-game roster bonuses.

If McDonald remains on the 49ers’ 90-man roster on April 1, 2018, all $3.7 million of his 2018 salary becomes fully guaranteed. If he’s on the roster on April 1, 2019, $3.2 million of his $4.2 base salary is fully guaranteed.

There are also incentives in the deal for receptions and receiving yards that begin with 55 receptions ($75,000) and 700 yards ($75,000)."

The 49ers took McDonald in the second round (55th overall) of the 2013 draft.

In 11 games last year, he caught 24 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

After making two selections in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday, the 49ers enter Day 2 of the draft with two third-round picks -- No. 66 and No. 67 overall.

The 49ers also currently have two picks in the fourth round, two picks in the fifth round, two picks in the 6th round and one seventh round pick.