49ers Blog and Q&A

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

September 29, 2013
Q&A: 49ers won't rule out trading for Britt, Gordon but ...

A: Most of your questions on the matter have begun, "any chance ...?" Well, yes. I spoke to a team official on background who said the 49ers never would rule out trading for anyone, including the receivers mentioned above. But he said they were not actively looking at them at that moment.

There are a few reasons why. First, they have two players at the position - Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree - expected to join the active roster this year. Manningham is on track to resume practicing in two weeks. Crabtree, meanwhile, is very much on track as far as a six-month rehab.

Furthermore, there's a good reason why some of these teams want to deal their receivers. Britt has run afoul of law enforcement multiple times since being drafted in 2009; Gordon faces a year suspension if he has another failed drug test. The 49ers at one point could argue that they were uniquely set up to handle problematic players. After Aldon Smith's multiple incidents, that no longer is the case, and it would seem unlikely they would take on someone like Britt or Wallace so soon after Smith entered treatment for substance abuse.

It's true that the 49ers' future at wide receiver is cloudy and that the 49ers particularly could use a big, down-the-field receiver like Britt or Gordon. Of the six receivers who were on the active roster Thursday, only Quinton Patton and Jon Baldwin are signed beyond this season. (Crabtree is as well, through 2014). But the team still has six pure receivers on the 53-man roster; one other, Chris Harper, who is a receiver/tight end blend; two more who are on the non-football injury list; and one more, Chuck Jacobs, on the practice squad. That's a lot of wideouts.

A: Well, I'm still several weeks from obtaining my medical degree (It's an online program based in Grenada), so don't go calling me an expert yet. As I reported two weeks ago, Crabtree is on track for a six-month recovery, which would be Nov. 6. Would he begin playing in early November? No, I think that is too ambitious.

Remember, Crabtree not only suffered a full tear of his Achilles' tendon, he's also suffered two foot fractures since 2008. He's a sudden, hard-cutting receiver who places a lot of stress on his feet. Knowing that, I think the 49ers gradually will ramp up his on-field work, even after the six-month mark. If the 49ers are still in the playoff hunt in early December, I think it's well within reason to think Crabtree could be back, say, for the Dec. 8 rematch against Seattle.

A: I expect him to rejoin practice when Manningham does - which would be before the Oct. 20 game in Tennessee. The 49ers can activate him and Manningham any time in a three-week period after that.

A: James' most obvious role going forward is punt returner since Kyle Williams is signed only through this season. The one thing that James has going for him over Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter is that he's much more comfortable in the read-option. However, the 49ers have done less of that this year as defenses have made adjustments in the offseason. If Marcus Lattimore eventually takes over for Gore as the team's lead running back, it's hard to see James ever being more than an occasional, change-of-pace runner.

I suppose a team like New Orleans or Detroit that spreads the field quite a bit on offense could have a role for James. But I wouldn't expect the compensation to be very good, certainly nowhere near the second-round pick the 49ers used to acquire James.

A: You clearly don't know who you're talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No. I'm the one who knocks. - WW

That's what I'll miss - good writing. And not just kick-ass lines like the one above. It's also the fact that writer/creator Vince Gilligan had such a clear vision. There's no flying-by-the-seat-of-your pants crapola (I'm looking at you, J.J. Abrams) in Breaking Bad. Gilligan knew where he was going the whole time. Just look at all the foreshadowing (cycloptic teddy bear/cycloptic Gustavo Fring).

Which is why I can't wait for tonight's finale. Any of you east coasters who Tweet out spoilers will get a Lily-of-the-valley-laced surprise from me.

-- 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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