Healthy Crabtree running better than ever


Healthy Crabtree running better than ever

SANTA CLARA -- Pro Bowl cornerback Carlos Rogers rates Michael Crabtree's hands up there among the best receivers in the game, comparable to those belonging to Larry Fitzgerald.Where Rogers has seen a noticeable improvement is with Crabtree's foot speed. Crabtree was healthy for the 49ers' entire offseason program. And it appears the eight practices he missed with a right calf strain was a mere speed bump.Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said he agrees with Rogers that Crabtree is running much better than a year ago."He was playing last year on a bad wheel and battled his way through it," Roman said. "I think he's a lot healthier this year, and he certainly appears to be much quicker and faster. Another year under his belt from an experience standpoint is very important."Crabtree is listed as a 49ers starting receiver after catching a team-high 72 passes for 874 yards last season. The other starting position remains unsettled Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Ted Ginn currently listed atop the depth chart.RELATED: 49ers release second depth chart
Crabtree spoke to the media Wednesday for just the second time since the end of last season. Here is what he had to say:Q: Carlos Rogers talked about how you look faster. Is that a fair assessment?
Crabtree: "I've been in competition with Carlos since I started camp. I got a little tablet in my locker of how many days I've won, how many he's lost. So I'm keeping that tablet. I'm winning right now. I'll try to keep it like that."Q: Are you faster?
Crabtree: "It's really limited on the injury. You got a foot injury, of course you're not going to go to full speed, you can go fast enough to play. My feet are good right now. I'm out there running."Q: How do you determine who wins your battles with Carlos?
Crabtree: "Obviously, I got to catch every pass. I can't let him knock a ball down. We don't really face each other that much out there. It's whenever I'm up against him, I just count that as a win. He's good competition -- friendly competition -- really, just making each other better. Really, making the practice more enjoyable."Q: Do you give him a chance to dispute your tally, look over the running score and make an argument?
Crabtree: "Every day. It's on the board, so I write it down before I go out. I say I won already before I go out. It's all fun and games."Q: Do you keep tab on any other defensive back?
Crabtree: "No. Just with Carlos right now. He's the only one who's doing a lot of talking. We're just having fun out here."Q: Before your calf injury, did you train to improve your speed?
Crabtree: "Really, just working hard. We got a good training staff, a good strength and conditioning program out here. Those guys have been real good at working on things you really need, things you need to focus on like speed and power, quickness. I just use it."Q: Carlos thought you might have lost some weight?
Crabtree: "No, I weigh same. That's the crazy thing about it. I've probably gained a little more muscle. That's about it."Q: What excites you about your role in the offense?
Crabtree: "Everything. It's football. Every day I come out here I'm looking to do something new, not just the same old routes I've been doing the whole camp or last year or the year before that. Just really trying to do something new and try to fit in with the rest of the guys we have -- that's (Randy) Moss, Teddy (Ginn), (Mario) Manningham, K-Dub (Kyle Williams), all those guys are out here competing and going hard. I just really feel like I need to fit in and have fun. Where I fit in is make some plays, either inside or outside, just trying to make a play."Q: There was a lot of talk in the offseason about how the 49ers needed to add receivers. How did you react to that? Did you take that as a challenge to you personally?
Crabtree: "Not at all. It's a team. We've added running backs. We've added receivers. Quarterback is looking good. That's just how the game goes. I don't think one receiver is enough. You never know what's going to happen in the season. Guys go down. For instance, last season we had four or five guys in the beginning. At the end of the season, it was just me and Brett Swain and my guy, Joe Hastings. I think you need that depth at receiver."Q: Jim Harbaugh said a while ago that you have the best hands he's ever seen. Is there pressure now to live up to that hype?
Crabtree: "No, not at all. It's really just be yourself and go out and try to catch every pass. It's not too much pressure."Q: Do you have the best hands?
Crabtree: "I don't know. I just going to go out there and be me. If that's what the people say, that's what the people say. I'm just going to play."Q: How much work does it take to make catching a pass look effortless?
Crabtree: "It's really focus. Probably, most of the drops come from not focusing and not seeing the ball. That's really catching the ball. If you can't see the ball, you can't catch it. You take your eye off the ball, you're not going to catch it. It's really just focus."Q: Carlos said you have a unique ability to catch the ball without your eye on it. Is he wrong?
Crabtree: "I don't know what Carlos is saying, man. Carlos is saying all kinds of things. But I'm just practicing on catching the ball every day."Q: You're going back to Houston, where you played your first game in 2009. How have you changed since then?
Crabtree: "I've grown a lot. Just going on my fourth year, that's crazy. Just each year, I get better and better, stronger and stronger. Learning how to be a pro. Learning from guys. There's been a lot of talent around me since I've been here, especially at receiver. A lot of old guys, Isaac Bruce, those guys, that I take new things. If I can learn something from those guys and put it in my notepad, and I'm running with it."Q: The fact that you're practicing and you've played in an exhibition game, do you feel much further along than past years?
Crabtree: "It's just preseason. I feel like being around, I'm a step ahead. Not being injured, it's always a plus. I'm looking good."

49ers release Ian Williams

49ers release Ian Williams

The 49ers on Thursday released nose tackle Ian Williams off the reserve/non-football injury list with an injury settlement.

The move, which was disclosed on the NFL, daily transaction report, is a procedural move, according to sources. It allows the 49ers to provide Williams with more compensation than he would have received if he had remained on reserve/non-football injury for the entire season. The move does not preclude the 49ers from re-signing Williams in the future.

The 49ers originally agreed to a five-year contract extension with Williams in the offseason. However, the contract was amended to a one-year deal after he underwent a team physical after undergoing surgery on his left leg.

Williams, 26, is a five-year NFL veteran. He originally signed with the 49ers as an undrafted rookie from Notre Dame in 2011.

He played his first 16-game season in 2015. He ranked third on the 49ers with 85 total tackles, according to the stats compiled by the coaching staff.

Williams took over as the 49ers’ starting nose tackle in 2013 after the free-agent departure of Isaac Sopoaga.

But he started just 10 games over the next two seasons due to two fractures of his lower leg.

Chip Kelly reveals why 49ers going with slower-paced offense

Chip Kelly reveals why 49ers going with slower-paced offense

Chip Kelly's offense with the 49ers is his slowest-paced version of his four NFL seasons.


“I think that’s what fits with this group of guys we have on the offensive side of the ball,” Kelly said this week.

Kelly did not expound on that thought. But it could be safe to assume his thinking is the same reason why it does not make sense to enter a Ford Pinto to race against pro stock dragsters.

The 49ers’ offense is running more plays this season. The 49ers snap the ball every 24.4 seconds on offense. That’s down from 26.1 seconds last season, and 29.7 seconds in Jim Harbaugh’s final season in 2014.

Last season in Philadelphia, Kelly’s team snapped the ball every 22.6 seconds. In Kelly’s final season at Oregon in 2012, the Ducks snapped the ball every 20.5 seconds.

“I don’t think we’re playing fast right now,” Kelly said. “So if someone said, ‘How are you playing offensively?’ I don’t think we’re playing fast offensively. I think we’re just not going back (to huddle). We’re saving seven yards of run time for our offensive line because they don’t have to run back in the huddle, get a play called and then do it.

“We’re just calling it at the line of scrimmage. So I think it’s a lot of what Denver used to do when Peyton (Manning) was there. But there’s a lot of times that we’re under 15 seconds when we’re snapping the ball and getting the play off. So we’re not playing fast and we’re not calling tempo-type plays in those situations. We’re just calling plays.”

Kelly said part of the problem is that the 49ers are not converting third downs. The team has a 36.3 percent success rate on third downs, which is actually an improvement over the 30.5 percent success of last season.

But the 49ers’ overall lack of offensive success this season cannot be camouflaged.

The 49ers are averaging just 4.5 yards per play. The 49ers have not averaged fewer than 5 yards per play since 2007, when Alex Smith sustained a shoulder injury and was replaced by Trent Dilfer.

While the 49ers are running more offensive plays than it has in the past, so is the opposition. The 49ers have averaged 64.3 plays per game. The 49ers have defended 69.9 plays per game – only 2.3 more plays than last season but 8.1 more plays than in 2014.

The biggest problem for the offense has been its run defense. The league’s worst run defense has surrendered 185.1 yards per game and is on pace to give up 2,962 yards this season, which would be the most in the NFL since the 1980 New Orleans Saints yielded 3,106 rushing yards.