49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

August 29, 2011
Crabtree returns to practice ... sort of

Receiver Michael Crabtree caught about 25 passes at the start of practice today from the team's quarterbacks as well as head coach Jim Harbaugh, who zipped him his final pass. Crabtree, however, was not in uniform and has not been cleared to practice because he is still on the physically unable to perform list after breaking his left foot in early June.


Wearing shorts, a red sweatshirt, black cleats and a baseball cap, Crabtree spent about 10 minutes during the warm-up period catching passes from Alex Smith. When practice began, he headed to a middle field with the four quarterbacks and Harbaugh. He lined up wide of the group and took a few quick steps like a receiver would before catching screen passes from each of the quarterbacks. He caught passes from both sides of the formation, but never ran more than five yards.

After about five minutes, general manager Trent Baalke walked over to Harbaugh, presumably to tell the coach that Crabtree was not allowed to take part in practice. Crabtree then moved to the team's artificial-surface field where he began his usual rehabilitation work. Only the first half hour of practices have been open to the media since Aug. 19.

An NFL spokesman said the league was looking into the matter. The spokesman said Baalke contacted the league office Monday afternoon and that it was the league's understanding that Crabtree was taking part in warm ups, not practice.

According to a source, Crabtree suffered a broken foot during a player-run practice on June 6. A stress fracture in the same foot was discovered in 2009 that required the insertion of a screw. Crabtree took part in another player-led session at the end of June but only participated in the warmups and ran at half speed.

It's not known when the latest injury was discovered but Crabtree has been out of an orthopedic boot for about two weeks. He is unlikely to play in Thursday's preseason finale but the team is holding out hope that he can return for the Sept. 11 season opener.

Cornerback Shawntae Spencer (hamstring) was in uniform for the first time since Aug. 14. He took part in practice that day but re-injured the hamstring that kept him out of most of the 2011 training camp. Spencer is still in the running to be an opening-day starting cornerback but will have to practice that week to get that role, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said.

Tight end Konrad Reuland (knee) and linebacker Keaton Kristick (unknown) were not dressed for practice. Safety Reggie Smith (knee) was rehabilitating with Crabtree on a side field.

According to reports out of Cincinnati, the 49ers did not get much value for former second-round pick Taylor Mays. The web site reported the 49ers received a seventh-round pick ... in 2013.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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