Word out of San Francisco is 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree has suffered an Achilles tear that could end his season. Adam Schefter is reporting Crabtree is undergoing additional tests, so we will await some kind of confirmation.
Players have come back from Achilles injuries in the same year, but until we know more, we are left to speculate on a 2013 season without Crabtree. He was the 49ers leading receiver, and also was far and away Colin Kaepernick's favorite weapon:
Targets in Colin Kaepernick’s 10 starts in 2012: 1. Michael Crabtree 94; T2. Vernon Davis 39, T2. Randy Moss 39. #49ers— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) May 22, 2013
Even if Crabtree does not miss the entire 2013 season, confirmation of the Achilles tear would mean missing some chunk of it. He will start training on the PUP list, and by September, the team would need to decide their next option. I suspect they stick with the PUP list to buy some time, but if he tore his Achilles I would not expect him back in 2013.
All that being said, the 49ers will need to consider their options in his place. For what Crabtree can do as a wide receiver, Anquan Boldin is the guy to fill his "role". He is big and physical, and could be a nice security blanket if need be for Colin Kaepernick. I don't think Kap necessarily needs that if he continues to develop, but it is there.
Beyond that, we know the 49ers roster. On Twitter, A.J. Jenkins was the frequent mention (after comments about the prescience of the Boldin trade), and he is potentially getting a huge opportunity to step up. Earlier today, the 49ers signed fourth round pick Quinton Patton. He'll get plenty of opportunities as well. And of course, there is the guy Jim Harbaugh mentioned earlier in the offseason, Ricardo Lockette. He was the most likely of the true bubble guys to earn a roster spot, and his opportunity now presents itself as well.
The two guys that really become question marks are Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham. Both are coming off ACL injuries. Williams is expected back at the start of training camp, while Manningham could miss most or all of training camp, and potentially some of the regular season. I would actually say, if healthy at the start of camp, Kyle Williams could benefit as much as anybody. Williams was starting to come on strong with Kaepernick before his season ended in November.
What has been quickly overlooked is Crabtree's blocking skill. Combining Crabtree and Boldin was going to make for arguably the best tandem of blocking receivers in the league. We can talk about these other receivers stepping up in the passing game, but the 49ers need strong blocking skills as well.
Training camp just got a lot more interesting.
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