SANTA CLARA — I just saw Michael Crabtree working vigorously on an exercise bike. He was bootless. Earlier in the day, Crabtree was seen smiling, and he told reporters he feels encouraged. Matt Maiocco reports Crabtree should be cleared to practice in two weeks, and although he won’t play in any of the preseason games for a third straight year, he should be ready to play in game 1 of…
According to Matt Barrows, Reggie Smith tore the meniscus in one of his knees and he will miss a couple of weeks, but it shouldn’t be a serious, long-term injury. Clearly, this is a big reason the Niners resigned Dashon Goldson. Here are my two questions for you: Question 1: If Smith hadn’t hurt his knee, would Baalke have resigned Goldson anyway? I say yes. Baalke got him for cheap,…
Matt Barrows, the great reporter from the Sacramento Bee, just reported that Michael Crabtree has a foot injury and he could miss four to six weeks of training camp and the preseason. He’s also reporting the 49ers want to sign a veteran wide receiver. This is the third straight year Crabtree’s feet have failed him in August. What is it about the dog days of summer that hurts his dogs?…
The San Francisco 49ers lost more than a game Sunday. They lost a wide receiver. And their kickoff returner. And their punt returner. Ted Ginn, who handles all three duties, suffered an MCL sprain in the Niners’ 31-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Multiple sources reported Tuesday that Ginn will miss a few weeks with the injury.
For the first time since Aug. 11, WR Michael Crabtree and TE Vernon Davis were on the field together during 11-on-11 team period.
Crabtree missed nearly two weeks with a neck strain, and didn’t play against the Raiders on Saturday even though he had practiced in the week leading up to the game. Davis hurt his knee going up for a pass from Alex Smith in the first preseason game at Indianapolis, and hasn’t worked in full team drills since. Until today. Both practiced, though it’s uncertain whether either will face the Chargers on Thursday.
Since the start of preseason games, the 49ers’ offense has been missing more parts than the Camaro permanently stashed in my neighbor’s driveway.
The regular season is just 12 days away, and we don’t really know what Jimmy Raye’s platoon will look like at full strength. RB Brian Westbrook joined the team late and finally saw some action against the Raiders on Saturday. TE Vernon Davis tweaked his knee in the first preseason game, at Indianapolis, and hasn’t practiced or played since. WR Michael Crabtree still has never played in an NFL exhibition game. And RB Frank Gore has touched the ball sparingly this preseason.
Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree should play against the Raiders on Saturday night, according to coach Mike Singletary. Brian Westbrook probably will, too. Vernon Davis will not. Three out of four ain’t bad if you’re Alex Smith and the rest of the 49ers’ offense.
Smith was handicapped against the Vikings last week as many of his top skill-position players sat out the game. This week, we should all get a better picture of where the offense stands at the break of training camp.
Smith and his starting offensive line, by the way, should play the entire first half Saturday, and maybe into the second.
Earlier in the day, Jimmy Raye had this to say when I asked him if David Baas had “locked up” the center position in Eric Heitmann’s absence: “I don’t know that that’s the correct phraseology, but I would say he’s in the lead. He has the lead in the clubhouse. Now the rules official may come and say it was a sand trap and it’s a two-stroke penalty, but I think he’s the leader in the clubhouse and … if the guy bogeys at 18, then he has a chance, he has a real chance.”
Solid golf joke, solid analysis.
Since then, however, the situation has gotten a little more interesting. Baas missed the afternoon practice with a stinger suffered in the morning session – which explained why Tony Wragge had gotten first-team reps toward the end of that practice.
The 49ers have avoided major injuries of late, but training camp is starting to look like a war of attrition as we get into the dog days of summer. Five new players joined the unofficial injury list before today’s practice: CB Shawntae Spencer (sore hamstrings), ILB Matt Wilhelm (headaches), WR Jason Hill (groin), T Barry Sims (oblique muscle) and TE Tony Curtis (quadriceps).
None of the five is described as serious. But some of these players, locked in competition for roster spots, can’t afford to miss much time. Hill could be battling Kyle Williams for the final wide receiver job, for example. Curtis might already be on the outside looking in as the 49ers search for a third tight end. And Sims seems to be locked in a battle with Alex Boone and Adam Snyder for a backup spot on the offensive line.
Alex Smith is starting to get his weapons back. WR Michael Crabtree, who injured his neck on Aug. 11 and had been limited to individual work for about a week, was back on the field for team and 7-on-7 work today. And yes, the hands looked as reliable as ever.
TE Vernon Davis, who injured his knee against the Colts on Aug. 15, did not work with teammates. But Davis caught passes from a Jugs machine after practice, coach Mike Singletary made it sound as though he could resume work any day.
With Ahmad Brooks out for gosh-knows-how-long with a lacerated kidney, and with no clear-cut backups to starting outside linebackers Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson, it would seem that veteran Travis LaBoy has a pretty good shot of making the 49ers’ 53-man roster.
So why does LaBoy sound so resigned?
Thursday I asked the Larkspur native how he saw himself fitting into the 49ers’ plans on defense, and this was his reply: “Honestly, to me, it don’t really matter. I’m gonna do the best I can for the time they give me. Whether they keep me or not in the end, I really don’t worry about that.”
Last week, the 49ers pushed the idea that they were starting David Baas at center because they already knew what they had in Tony Wragge. It looked like an open competition for the temporary spot created by Eric Heitmann’s broken fibula.
Now it seems clear that Wragge won’t get a real shot at the job. While Baas continues to get all the work with the first team, Wragge isn’t even getting most of his snaps at center. He has primarily been working at left guard with the second team as Adam Snyder recovers from a concussion. Getting the No. 2 reps at center the past two days has been Cody Wallace.
They were two of the hottest players in training camp this past week, making numerous plays on either side of the ball. And now they’re both dealing with injuries. WR Kyle Williams sprained his right big toe on a second-quarter punt return, while CB Will James sprained his right ankle with about five minutes to play in the game.
James’ situation looked worse at the time. He stayed on the field for several minutes and eventually left on a cart. Williams exited the game more quietly, but was limping noticeably in the locker room afterward and seemed a bit glum.
No idea yet of the severity of the injury, but the bearer of the pain makes it worth monitoring: WR Michael Crabtree went up for an Alex Smith duck during 7-on-7 this afternoon, and landed hard on his back. He stayed down for a minute, then spent much of practice consulting with a trainer on the sideline. The preliminary diagnosis: a neck strain.
Crabtree eventually headed to the training room for further observation.
It wasn’t like Crab had been a big part of the 49ers’ offense in recent practices. He got “veteran courtesy” – not bad for a guy with 11 career NFL games – Tuesday morning and again Wednesday morning. In between, he sat out a special-teams practice.
The 49ers were in shells rather than full pads this afternoon. But if that took an edge off the excitement, they supplemented with a 2-minute drill to end the final team period. Actually, it was a 1:58 drill, with real NFL officials enhancing the experience.
Beginning at their 20-yard line, Alex Smith and his first-team offense had to convert third- and fourth-down plays to stay alive. The former was a pass across the middle to Michael Crabtree on third-and-5, with OLB Parys Haralson closing on Smith; the latter was another connection with Crabtree on fourth-and-3. The first-down spot may have been generous.
On the next play, Smith found Josh Morgan crossing downfield and he took it for a 42-yard gain. There were 21.2 seconds left. After a brief consultation by the coaches, they decided it was close enough to award a phantom game-winning field goal.
No offense to Scott McKillop, but he will never be mistaken for Patrick Willis, the 49ers’ perennial Pro Bowl linebacker.
That said, this is the NFL, where losing any contributor has a complicated domino effect on the lineup and the roster. When McKillop tore his left ACL and patellar tendon at practice Wednesday, and underwent surgery at Stanford Medical Center today, it created some holes – and some opportunities – within the 49ers.
Notes and observations from this morning’s practice in, believe it or not, Seaside…
• Chilo Rachal, who went face down in practice two days ago and was diagnosed with dehydration, was back in action today as the 49ers practiced on the marine-layered Cal State University Monterey Bay soccer field. (More on the ambience later.) In fact, Rachal seemed to come back with a vengeance. He was very physical today, putting DE Ray McDonald on the ground at one point. TE Nate Byham was back, too, by the way.
• Sitting out practice were C Eric Heitmann (stinger), LG David Baas (concussion), TE Delanie Walker (concussion), ILB Scott McKillop (knee) and G Chris Patrick (shoulder). Rookie Mike Iupati again stood in for Baas, while Tony Wragge replaced Heitmann. Rookie NaVorro Bowman got second-team reps in McKillop’s absence.
Jeff Ferguson, the 49ers’ head trainer, had a surprise for the media today, and he watched with a mischievous grin as we “unwrapped” it. Patrick Willis, the heart of the San Francisco defense, and by now the team’s most recognizable player, was back on the field during team period for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a bursa sack in his right knee in March.
“There’s nothing like being inside the huddle and actually participate in the practice,” Willis said in the locker room afterward. “It was good just to watch and to get my eyes back right again, but it’s even better to be out there practicing.”
There were few changes on the 49ers’ injury report today. Running back Michael Robinson went from limited practice to full practice. Almost everything else remained the same. Left tackle Joe Staley is not officially “out,” but he will not play this week. Likewise, Isaac Bruce will not suit up for the game. Kentwan Balmer, Michael Lewis and Takeo Spikes are day-to-day with their injuries.
Niners offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye speaks with the media every Thursday. Today, he let it be known exactly where he stands as it pertains to the question about the 49ers’ quarterback of the future. Raye has been very impressed with Alex Smith’s play in the 4 ½ games in which he has been the starter. “The quarterback play has been very good and at times it has even titled…