Replacing Crabtree is not a one-man job

Harbaugh on Crabtree: 'It was completely torn'

Replacing Crabtree is not a one-man job
May 22, 2013, 3:00 pm
Share This Post

Randy Moss caught 28 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns last season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

The 49ers' young depth at wide receiver will be tested while Michael Crabtree rehabs a surgically repaired right Achilles tear.

Coach Jim Harbaugh, speaking with reporters Wednesday at the 49ers' practice facility in Santa Clara, expressed confidence in the team's young receivers.

"We feel like someone is going to emerge there," Harbaugh said.

[RELATED: 49ers all in on 'next man up' philosophy]

There are plenty of options, including A.J. Jenkins, the team's first-round draft pick in 2012.

Jenkins was not needed as a rookie. He did not catch a pass in his first NFL season. Now, the 49ers will rely on him to play like a first-round draft pick. The 49ers' season might depend on it.

Veteran Anquan Boldin, acquired in an offseason trade with the Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens for a sixth-round draft pick, will be heavily relied upon as the team's new No. 1 wideout.

Veteran Mario Manningham is returning from a knee injury he sustained late in the season. He is not expected to be ready at the start of training camp. Manningham believes he can be ready for the opening of the regular season.

Kyle Williams, returning from his own season-ending knee injury, is expected to be ready for the opening of training camp. Williams has not caught more than 20 passes in a season.

Fourth-round draft pick Quinton Patton and Ricardo Lockette, whom Harbaugh raved about during the NFL owners meetings in March, will get their chances to work their way onto the playing field, too.

[RELATED: Rookie WR Patton talks 'big brother' Crabtree, Kap's fastball]

One possible free agent acquisition is veteran Randy Moss, who caught 28 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns last season. The 49ers closed the door on Moss early in the offseason after Harbaugh declared he wanted Moss back on the team in 2013. Moss is enjoying spending time with his kids, said a source close to Moss. But if the 49ers wanted to talk to Moss, there's little doubt he would listen.

Crabtree sustained his injury in practice Tuesday in a 7-on-7 drill when he merely went into motion. Crabtree underwent surgery at Stanford Hospital on Wednesday. Harbaugh was late for practice Wednesday as he was visiting with Crabtree.

The team plans to keep the door open for Crabtree to make a late-season return to action. His surgery is expected to require a six-month recovery. Crabtree could return to action in late-November and, potentially, for the playoffs.

The 49ers will continue to feature an offense geared around a strong offensive line and Frank Gore's prowess between the tackle. But for the 49ers to make it to the playoffs, quarterback Colin Kaepernick will have to find other targets in the passing game to compensate for the loss of his favorite receiver.

Tight end Vernon Davis, who virtually disappeared after Alex Smith's benching, is the strongest candidate to pick up the slack in the passing game.

While Crabtree caught 85 passes for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns last season, Davis managed just 41 receptions for 548 yards and five touchdowns.

Yes, the 49ers need the young wide receivers to step up. But they also need Kaepernick to rediscover Davis as a threat.

More Team Talk