Michael Crabtree not only was dressed for the start of Wednesday's practice, the 49ers receiver made it through to the end as well, according to the team's injury report. That's significant. It was Crabtree's first full practice since the 2010 season, and it increases the likelihood that he'll take part in Sunday's season opener against Seattle.
Quarterback Alex Smith said he also threw with Crabtree during a Tuesday walk-through session. "Got to throw with him (Tuesday) a little bit, so that was good," Smith said. "It was good to see him out there running around. He's extremely talented. He's going to help us a ton."
Crabtree missed his third straight preseason this year after breaking a bone in his left foot during a player-run practice June 6 at San Jose State. The injury occurred during the lockout, and Crabtree didn't have it diagnosed until the following month. He had surgery in July and spent the beginning of training camp in a walking boot. The 49ers removed him from the physically-unable-to-perform list on Aug. 30, and he was running short routes last week.
Wednesday was the first day he was observed running full routes. With Smith and rookie Colin Kaepernick firing passes to him, Crabtree ran an array of patterns, from quick slants to longer double moves down the field. Crabtree seemed quick in and out of his breaks, but it was not clear if he was going full speed. The media is not allowed to watch more than the first half hour of practices, so it's unclear exactly what Crabtree's participation was throughout the session.
Also cloudy is his role in Sunday's game. As it stands now, the 49ers list Crabtree as the fifth receiver on their depth chart. However, it's difficult to see coaches keeping him out of action altogether if he is able to play. Coach Jim Harbaugh said that Crabtree could conceivably line up at either wideout position and also was capable of playing out of the slot.
"It's the same thing we said to the receivers going into this week -- we'll judge it on how they're practicing, who gives us the best ability at each position, each play, each personnel group," Harbaugh said. "We'll look at that part this week."
The team learned Tuesday that another receiver, Braylon Edwards, would not be suspended to start the season. Edwards and Ted Ginn are listed as co-starters at one of the receiver positions. Joshua Morgan is the starter at the other.
-- Matt Barrows