49ers look for power switch

The power is off here at the 49ers’ team offices after a transformer – very loudly – went out in the area a couple hours ago.

 

In an unrelated event, the 49ers are trying to inject some power into their offense. Although it’s not a done deal, coach Mike Singletary confirmed there is a “strong possibility” receiver Michael Crabtree will be in the starting lineup Sunday against the Texans.

 

Here are some other thoughts on Crabtree, as well as a couple additional news items:

 

–Josh Morgan said he has been told that Crabtree will take over at the “X” position. This would be a change of plan from the day after Crabtree signed his six-year contract when offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye said the rookie would be used as the slot in three-receiver formations. Morgan says the X receiver lines up in the slot only in certain formations.

 

–So how is this going to play in play in the locker room? Singletary said this is one of his concerns. After all, Crabtree missed all of training camp – including the famed “nutcracker” drill. Then, he is quickly promoted to the starting lineup after signing Oct. 7 to end a 71-day contract impasse.

 

Morgan, obviously, doesn’t have a huge problem with it. After all, he served as an accomplice to get Crabtree’s promotion.

 

–Why does Crabtree replace Morgan and not veteran Isaac Bruce? There are several reasons. First, Crabtree began the process of learning the X position in the offseason. Also, that would be a tougher “sell” in the locker room. Certainly, the old vet, Bruce, deserves more respect than to be replaced by a kid with no NFL experience.

 

Also, Morgan knows this move could eventually benefit him. He and Crabtree figure to be a receiver tandem for a long time — beginning next season. Bruce is in the final year of his contract and is not expected to be back in 2010.

 

– Crabtree worked out with Morgan and Frank Gore over the bye week. Backup quarterback Alex Smith threw passes to Crabtree on Thursday. The next day, assistant trainer Nate Breske was put to work throwing balls to Crabtree. Breske was a two-year starting quarterback at Northern State (S.D.) University.

 

Said Gore, “I feel good about him (Crabtree). Over the bye week, he looked very good. He’s picking up on the plays. . . . I think he can do well, just by watching him in college. Watching him over the bye week, he looks how he’s supposed to look. He has great hands and runs good routes.”

 

–Starting quarterback Shaun Hill said he started zeroing in on Crabtree on Monday, when the 49ers had a walk-through practice.

 

“I’m very impressed with how much he’s learned since he’s been here,” Hill said. “He came back in and was able to pick it up. I feel very comfortable that he’s going to know everything he has to know for this game.”

 

Hill’s first impression of Crabtree is that he plays bigger than his actual size. Crabtree is listed at 6-foot-1, 214 pounds.

 

“You see him and you think he’s a little on the short side, but you see him out there playing with his hands out and his arms out, he’s a big target,” Hill said. “He has very strong hands to the ball. He really attacks the ball. He’s going to be good for us.”

 

–The 49ers have the 29th-ranked offense in the league and the No. 28 passing game in yards gained. Crabtree is not the only addition to the offense who could make a difference. Gore said he expects to be ready to go Sunday against the Texans after missing the past two games with a right ankle injury.

 

–Rookie defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois missed his flight back to the Bay Area after he got away for the bye weekend. He missed the team’s walk-through practice Monday morning, a team source said.

 

Jean-Francois will be fined an undisclosed amount, and Singletary will have him “run until he can’t walk” to complete the disciplinary action, the source said.

 

The 49ers had workouts with veteran running back Jesse Chatman and rookie tight end Carson Butler (Michigan). Chatman had 515 yards rushing for the Dolphins in 2007.

 

–Chatman is not eligible for the practice squad. The 49ers are likely to add a running back to the practice squad Wednesday morning to replace Kory Sheets, whom the Dolphins signed to their active roster last week. Sheets must remain on the Dolphins’ 53-man roster for at least three weeks.

 

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