The 49ers have long contended that wide receiver Michael Crabtree will return to help them this season, but they have a pretty good idea that he’ll miss at least the first six weeks of the year.
Crabtree tore his Achilles during the offseason and coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday that the team will place him on the active PUP list to start camp. Harbaugh also said that the 49ers “feel very good about where he is right now” in his rehab and Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com gave no indication that they’ve stopped feeling Crabtree can contribute to the team at some point this season.
Obviously it is no surprise that Crabtree won’t be practicing with the 49ers, but the choice to put him on the PUP list is significant. He can now move onto the reserve PUP list come the regular season, which forces him to miss the first six games of the season before a three-week window opens to take the player off the list. There are then three more weeks for him to practice before he must be activated or shut down for the remainder of the season.
It will take some time before we know how Crabtree’s rehab will go, but handling things this way leaves open the 49ers’ spot for a player to be placed on injured reserve with the possibility of returning to the team later in the season. Knowing Crabtree’s general timeline allows them to use the PUP list while keeping open the possibility of another late season return to bolster their roster down the road.