Not that anyone should have expected the head coach and starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers to publicly bash any of the team’s players, especially Michael Crabtree (who was running sprints on a side field while the rest of the team was practicing … no noticeable limp). No use creating a story, especially when the media is so willing to indulge the fans in their skepticism that Crabtree can be a No. 1 receiver or wants to take part in any team activities before the season.
So when Jim Harbaugh and Alex Smith were asked whether Crabtree’s absence during the first week-plus of training camp was cause for concern, they responded as one would expect: NO.
They also both felt it necessary to trumpet Crabtree’s off-season conditioning. First, the Mightiest Man himself, Mr. Harbaugh:
“The thing I feel for Michael, I know he’s feeling too, is that he came in in such great shape. (He) looked fantastic and we feel like we’ll get him back soon and we can pick right up. I don’t think this is going to be a major bump in the road. I think it’s going to be a minor one. He’s champing at the bit to get back out there, and anticipate that happening soon.”
And to prove that the party line will be adhered to from coach on down, here’s Smith:
“At this point, not worried about it. He had such a great spring and summer. I don’t know when he’s going to be back, but we’ll look forward to his return. Hopefully it’s not too long. I know I feel good about what he got done this offseason. It’s a long camp. I feel like he’ll get back and get some good work in.”
Until Crabtree finally plays in his first NFL preseason game, these questions will keep coming. The good news one could glean from these answers is that perhaps having his fitness level questioned by Jerry Rice motivated Crabtree to work out harder than he ever has. If that’s true, and the injury is as minor as it appears, Crabtree should be back very soon.