San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed on Friday that wide receiver Michael Crabtree will make his season debut this Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. Crabtree has missed the entire season up to this point after tearing his Achilles’ tendon during the offseason.
The 26-year-old wideout was the 10th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, but didn’t break out for the 49ers until 2011, and became a true standout in 2012. He was expected to be a big part of San Francisco’s attack this season, but was forced to undergo surgery on his torn Achilles in May.
In 2012, Crabtree finally emerged as a true No. 1 receiver, as he finished the season with 85 catches for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns. He also led the 2012 NFL playoffs in receiving yards and was a big part of the 49ers reaching Super Bowl XLVII.
On Friday, Crabtree practiced for the third consecutive day, and is not listed on San Francisco’s injury report. He has had to battle back from the injured Achilles, but is also not yet in game shape. So expect him to only play 15-20 snaps as the team tries to work him back into shape.
The 49ers have desperately missed Crabtree this season, as their passing attack ranks dead-last in the NFL, averaging just 173.5 yards per game. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has struggled to find his targets (completion percentage of 56.7), and only two players on the roster have more than 16 receptions (Anquan Boldin has 52, Vernon Davis has 38).
Crabtree returning to the field is huge for the 49ers, who are currently 7-4 and need a jolt to their offense.