Niners coach Mike Singletary said today he has yet to make a final decision whether Michael Crabtree will be in the starting lineup for the 49ers on Sunday against the Houston Texans.
“He’s certainly going to play a lot, and that’s the bottom line,” Singletary said.
“We’re not in a position to name the starter yet. Look at Bruce, Josh and Crabtree. We look at all those guys as starters – possible starters,” Singletary said. “I think the most important thing for us is to get him out there as soon as we can, as much as we can and see what he can and cannot do.”
As for how many snaps of action Crabtree will see in his NFL debut, Singletary said, “He is going to be the one who controls that. If he’s having a good game, he’s in rhythm, he’s running the right routes, he’s blocking, he’s doing all the things that we see him doing out here, I think chances are he will play more.”
Is there a message that Singletary is sending to the locker room that a player can skip all of training camp and the first four games of the regular season and still be inserted into the starting lineup?
Singletary said there is a message, all right.
“The most important message is that we want to win,” Singletary said.
“I could be stubborn. I could be a knucklehead and say, ‘You know what, he wasn’t here, Josh is going to start or this guy is going to start and that’s the way it’s going to be.’ You know what? I think I want to be fair to the team. The team comes first, and the team wants to win. And we’re going to all that we can to get the best 11 players on the field at all times to give us a chance to win.”
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Singletary said Crabtree has received a fair share of ribbing since reporting to the team. He was coaxed to sing Happy Birthday to Singletary last week. “Doing the things that normal rookies do,” Singletary said.
And how is Crabtree’s singing?
“Awful,” Singletary said.
“He was doing all types of things and after a while I just said, ‘You know what? Just relax and let the kid focus on what he’s doing,'” Singletary said. “But not one time did he complain. Not one time did he show any body language of ‘I’m above this.’ He’s been a team guy since he’s been here.”
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Josh Morgan might see a huge reduction in the 49ers’ typical two-WR sets, but he might end up playing more than Crabtree. Morgan will be used in three-WR sets, and he’ll also be the one receiver who remains in the game when 49ers go with two-back, two-TE sets.
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Shaun Hill said it’s doable for a receiver to come in and learn the offense with one game plan at a time. After all, Crabtree only has to learn the plays that are part of the packages in which he’ll play in Sunday’s game.
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All this talk about Crabtree’s sudden elevation into a starting role has left Brandon Jones more than a bit perplexed. Jones is the 49ers’ second-highest paid receiver. He signed a five-year $16.5 million contract with $5.4 million guaranteed in free agency.
“I thought I was going to have a big role in February and March when I signed here,” Jones said. “I thought I’d have a role. . . . Things happened, I ended up injured.”
Jones has no catches after coming back from missing almost all of training camp with a broken shoulder blade. He was inactive for the first three games of the season, and saw limited action the past two games.
What has he been told about what he can do to get more playing time?
Jones: “Um (laughs), I don’t know. I really haven’t been told anything about getting more playing time, besides helping out on special teams to get on the field, and things like that.”
Are you the kind of guy who seeks answers or do you sit back and let them use you how they want to use you?
Jones: “Both. Of course, you’re not going to get the answers you want. I seek answers. My job is to play football, play receiver. If I were the coach, I’d be playing.”
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Running back Frank Gore said he is feeling fine and was heading out to practice with a taped right ankle. It’s uncertain whether Gore will pick up his usual workload after missing the past two games with right ankle problems.
“All I know is I’m looking at him right now, and he’s doing pretty good,” Singletary said.
Safety Michael Lewis is also doing “fine,” according to Singletary, after sustaining his third concussion since mid-August. But Singletary said he does not know if Lewis will play Sunday against the Texans.
“He’s doing fine,” Singletary said. “He seems to be doing great. At the same time, when you’re talking concussion, we’re going to make sure we’re in touch with the doctors and trainers and make sure we’re all on the same page and we’re doing what’s best for that individual.”
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The 49ers signed RB Keon Lattimore to the practice squad to fill the spot vacated when the Dolphins signed Kory Sheets to their 53-man roster. Lattimore has spent the past two training camps with the Cowboys. He rushed nine times for 45 yards for the Cowboys in the ’08 exhibition season, and the had 86 yards on 26 attempts this past preseason. Lattimore is a younger brother of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
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