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The return of Michael Crabtree means improved run blocking.

Harry How

The San Francisco 49ers have welcomed Michael Crabtree back to practice this week, and will hopefully get him back on the field this Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. While Crabtree continues to work his way back, Mario Manningham is back on the field and starting to get into more of a rhythm with Colin Kaepernick.

The return of Crabtree and Manningham has been discussed ad nauseam, and rightfully so. The 49ers are getting serious talent upgrades at wide receiver, and it should be enough to make a difference in a passing game that has struggled with consistency.

However, one thing that will be upgraded is the run blocking. When the 49ers acquired Anquan Boldin, I was excited about the addition of the receiver Boldin, but I was equally excited about the addition of the blocker Boldin. The idea of Boldin and Crabtree on the outside opening up holes on some runs to the end, and down the field, had me just a little bit excited. Unfortunately, Crabtree's injury delayed that.

But now, the 49ers have all their wide receivers practicing, and I have a hunch the run game will benefit. Getting Crabtree and Manningham back should help spread out the defense, but it also means those defenders will be blocked by some of the elite run blocking wide receivers in the league. While we spend our days trying to figure out how Crabtree will show up in the passing game, it's just as important to see how he joins Boldin and Manningham in creating some openings in the run game.