Baalke: Remains to be seen if Crabtree a true No. 1

February 23, 2012, 6:03 pm
Share This Post

Programming note: Stay logged on all week long as 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco files reportsfrom the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS -- General manager Trent Baalke does not need to study the film of the 49ers' season-ending loss in the NFC championship game to know his team needs to add wide receivers."We have only two guys under contract for next year, so it's an area we have to address," Baalke said on Thursday.
"Both Teddy (Ginn) and Josh (Morgan) are unrestricted free agents, so that leaves us with two guys who are under contract. So, yeah, it definitely is an area that needs to be addressed. . . . Obviously, when you have two under contract, it's a need position."RELATED: Maiocco -- 49ers free-agent options at wide receiver
The 49ers have a third receiver -- and, possibly, a fourth -- that Baalke did not originally identify. Rookie Joe Hastings is under contract for 2012, and the 49ers have yet to determine whether special-teamer Colin Jones will go to camp as a backup safety or wideout.The 49ers outside passing game was virtually non-existent in the 20-17 loss to the eventual Super Bowl-champion New York Giants. Michael Crabtree was held to one catch for 3 yards. And that was the only reception from a wide receiver.REWIND: Giants-49ers NFC Championship box score
Baalke admitted that he does not know whether Crabtree, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2009 draft, will become a true No. 1 receiver. But Baalke expressed satisfaction with Crabtree's progress in 2011."Michael works hard. He works hard at the game," Baalke said. "He did a nice job. He certainly had some growth."RELATED: Michael Crabtree 2011 game logs
Crabtree missed all of training camp after surgery to repair a left foot fracture which he sustained during an offseason workout at San Jose State. He sat out the second game of the season, and was finally able to practice every day for the final seven weeks of the season."(Crabtree) still wasn't able to practice every day and take every rep because of the foot," Baalke said. "Hopefully, this offseason he can get that thing rectified once and for all and he can start being an every-day performer for us."Baalke said Crabtree will not require any surgical procedure. He said it will be a matter of the team figuring out the best way to prevent a recurrence of the injury.Crabtree finished the regular season as the team's leading receiver with 70 catches for 874 yards and four touchdowns. But in two playoff games, Crabtree had just five receptions for 28 yards and one touchdown."I like the growth that he had in a new system; like the chemistry he and Alex (Smith) seem to develop through the course of the year," Baalke said. "Whether he can define himself as a true No. 1 in the National Football League or not remains to be seen. But (I'm) certainly happy with the progress he made."RELATED: Q&A with 49ers GM Trent Baalke from NFL combine
Baalke was asked whether he's curious how Kyle Williams will rebound from his two-turnover performance as a return man in the NFC title game:"Not curious at all. I've had great discussions with Kyle. My message to him will stay between us. He's a pro. He's been around it his whole life. His dad (Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams) is in professional sports as a GM. He knows how to handle himself. I was proud of the way he handled himself afterward and I have no doubt that Kyle will come back hungrier and even more prepared than he was a year ago." Baalke on whether Colin Jones, drafted as a safety, will be a receiver:"We're still trying to define his role in the offense or the defense.(Special teams coordinator) Brad Seely did an outstanding job of identifying some of the traits he was looking for in that special teams corps. He brings a couple things to the table. No. 1, he can run. He's a very savvy football player. He understands the game. And he's tough. When you have those qualities. You can run, you got some savvy about you and tough, he's got the makeup of a good (special) teams player."

More Team Talk