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November 25, 2013
Crabtree cometh? Harbaugh hints at receiver's return


LANDOVER, MD. - Jim Harbaugh has been coy about Michael Crabtree's return for nearly month, and he said Monday he "anticipates" Crabtree being available Sunday when the 49ers host the Rams.

"Crabtree's coming back next week, and hopefully we get a few other guys back," Harbaugh said after Monday's game. "Because we need them all." Asked if that meant Crabtree, the team's leading receiver in 2012, would get on the field against St. Louis, Harbaugh laughed and said, "I anticipate he's going to come back next week."

Crabtree, who suffered a torn Achilles' tendon on May 21, returned to practice three weeks ago but has not been taken off the physically-unable-to-perform list. That will happen today when he'll be added to the 53-man roster.

Crabtree was easily Colin Kaepernick's favorite target last season when he finished with 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns. And he promises to be a welcome addition to a lineup that has had only two true threats, receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis, in the passing game. Boldin and Davis remain the only 49ers with touchdown receptions this season.

Defense dominant - The 49ers allowed the Redskins to drive 62 yards at the end of the half and to kick a field as the period expired. After that, however, they didn't allow much at all.

Washington gained only one first down in the second half, was 0-6 on third downs and quarterback Robert Griffin III was sacked four times.

Linebacker NaVorro Bowman said the the 49ers were caught off guard a bit when the Redskins went with a no-huddle offense in the second quarter but that they made the necessary adjustments at halftime. Fellow linebacker Patrick Willis led the 49ers with 11 tackles; Bowman was second with eight.

"If you give us all your moves, man, we're a good enough defense to adjust at halftime, make the right corrections and still have a good game," Bowman said. "And that's what we did."

Smith sacks again - Aldon Smith recorded his first sack since Week 3 when he beat left tackle Trent Williams off the line of scrimmage and took down Griffin for an 8-yard loss. He sacked Griffin again in the fourth quarter.

He now has 6 ½ sacks on the season, second to fellow outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who has 8 ½ after he also sacked Griffin twice.

For the third straight game Dan Skuta, not Smith, started the game at right outside linebacker. But Smith played more snaps than he has in the previous two contests and finished the game with three tackles and four hits on the quarterback. Skuta and rookie Corey Lemonier filled in for Smith during his month-long stay in a substance-abuse treatment center.

Et cetera - Former 49ers receiver Josh Morgan started at wide receiver in place of injured Leonard Hankerson. Morgan finished with five catches for 45 yards, all of them in the first half.

* Guard Mike Iupati's knee injury meant that Joe Looney, a fourth-round pick in 2012, was in uniform for the the first time in his career. Adam Snyder started at left guard for Iupati. Looney and running back LaMichael James are the only members of the 49ers' 2012 draft still on the team.

* In the third quarter, the game's scorekeeper credited Griffin with a -minus 2-yard run. The 49ers will challenge that ruling, and if successful defensive end Justin Smith will be credited with a sack. Harbaugh said he thought Justin Smith had two sacks in the game.

* The NFL's head of officiating, Dean Blandino, was on hand for Monday's game. Blandino recently ruled that Brooks' controversial hit on Drew Brees last week was, in fact, illegal. The 49ers were penalized just four times on Monday.

-- 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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