Michael Crabtree is in the Bay Area, and he plans to start working out with quarterback Alex Smith and a small but growing group of 49ers, according to a source close to Crabtree. The receiver had been working out in his hometown, Dallas, until recently.
A number of 49ers who live in the South Bay have been training together since February. Since the draft, those sessions have included pass routes and plays from coach Jim Harbaugh's playbook, which has been circulating among the players. Rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick, for example, did not get a playbook on draft day but said last week he had been given a copy by a teammate. It's a safe assumption that Crabtree also has or will get a copy.
Players have been clear that their practice sessions are not a substitute for the minicamps and OTAs that they'd normally be having at this time of year. However, the fact that Smith, the presumed starting quarterback, and Crabtree, the presumed No. 1 wideout, are throwing together is a good sign.
Chemistry issues between the two early last season led to a number of critical interceptions and to 49ers losses. Crabtree, the No. 10 overall draft pick in 2009, has never appeared in a preseason game. He missed the exhibition season his rookie year due to a protracted contract dispute that also wiped away the first five games of the regular season.
Last year Crabtree suffered a neck injury that lingered throughout the preseason. He and Vernon Davis got into a practice-field argument in September that was so heated, the two had to be taken inside the locker room by then coach Mike Singletary. Both players declined to talk about the root of the issue, but the assumption has been that veteran players like Davis were upset that Crabtree had removed himself from the preseason games.
-- Matt Barrows