The San Francisco 49ers welcomed defensive tackle Tank Carradine back to the 53-man roster on Tuesday, as he was activated off the NFI list. This is the first of several moves that will bring depth back to the 49ers. One move still a few weeks (at least) away is the activation of wide receiver Michael Crabtree off the PUP list.
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman both had a chance to comment on the subject. Roman made an appearance on KNBR Tuesday morning, and Jim Harbaugh met with the media Tuesday afternoon.
Roman was asked if he was optimistic about Crabtree playing this season:
Very optimistic, yeah, very optimistic. Got a chance to watch him work out about a week ago and was very, very encouraged with what I saw. Surprised, I guess, would be a good word, too, in the sense of just what he was doing and how he was doing it. So that's very exciting as well. He's working real hard at it. And Crab's a very competitive guy and he wants out there. And we obviously want him out there. But, I will tell you this, he's probably ahead of schedule in terms of where he's at just because of his work ethic."
Harbaugh had the following exchange during his press conference:
What's sort of the take on WR Michael Crabtree's return in a few weeks? Is that still doable?
"That's doable. I'm not going to make any proclamations or profound statements, but he's right on track for, at some point here, weeks."
Mid-November is still the target?
"Some amount of weeks."
This doesn't exactly tell us much more than we already knew, although it is interesting to see Roman say he is surprised by Crabtree's progress. That strikes me as a bit of good news.
In looking at the 49ers upcoming schedule, the window for his return would seem to open right around that November 17 game against the New Orleans Saints. We've heard early to mid November is the time-frame, but I have to wonder if that's the return to game action, or simply the return to practice.
For argument's sake, let's say it is the return to game action. If that is the case, I would be surprised if Crabtree was back in action November 17 against the Saints or November 25 against Washington. The Saints game is indoors on their Superdome turf. At some point Crabtree will have to play on a turf surface, but given the things that can happen on turf compared to natural grass, do you have him return that game?
The November 25 game against Washington is on natural grass, but FedEx Field has gotten grief for being in poor condition. I'm going to that game so it'd be cool to see Crabtree make his season debut, but again, I would not be surprised if the team waiting another week.
If that's the case, December 1 at home against the St. Louis Rams would seem to be the game to bring him back. You get the natural surface at Candlestick Park, and you get a chance to fire up the home fans with Crabtree's return. Furthermore, you get him a game of action before the 49ers host the Seattle Seahawks in what should be a huge divisional showdown.
Of course, if that mid to late November time frame is just a return to full practice, then all of this is moot.