In what has become a yearly tradition, receiver Michael Crabtree has been more of a spectator than a participant at 49ers training camp. After missing camp over a contract dispute in his rookie season, injuries kept him on the sideline in 2010 and 2011 — foot surgery being the culprit this year. But according to coach Jim Harbaugh, the third-year wideout could be back on the field with the team as soon as this week. On Monday, the former Texas Tech standout caught a few passes at the start of practice, but has yet to participate in any team workouts. Despite the reports, Crabtree’s status is still uncertain. Even if he practices with the team this week, it’s unlikely that he’ll play in San Francisco’s final preseason game against San Diego. Furthermore, if Crabtree doesn’t pass a physical before the start of the regular season, he must remain on the PUP list — making him ineligible to play in the Niners’ first six games.
Entering his third season in the league, Crabtree has yet to be the impact receiver San Francisco thought they were getting. Vernon Davis has already established himself as the main option for Niner quarterbacks, and with the addition of Braylon Edwards, Crabtree could lose some of his previous targets. At best, Crabtree was probably a No. 3/4 receiver, but there are more consistent options out there.