USA Today San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles tendon during organized team activities Tuesday and will soon undergo what could be season-ending surgery, a person informed of the injury told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the 49ers haven’t commented on the injury, which used to be an automatic season-ender but has since become one that can sometimes be rehabbed in a matter of months — as Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Da’Quan Bowers did last year. Both players tore the tendon in the spring and returned to the field after starting the year on the physically unable to perform list. Crabtree, 25, is coming off a breakout season in which he had career-highs in receptions (85), yards (1,105) and touchdowns (nine), following three seasons in which he struggled to live up to the expectations placed upon him when the Niners selected him 10th overall in 2009. The injury to Crabtree comes at an unfortunate point in his career and for the 49ers, though the team has been working to build depth on offense. Perhaps the Niners would consider bringing back Randy Moss, who hasn’t yet retired and tweeted in March he “wished we could’ve finished the job!!” In March, the Niners picked up receiver Anquan Boldin in a trade with the Ravens, sending Baltimore third- and fourth-round draft picks. Crabtree did all he could to help the Niners win a title. He had a huge postseason – 20 catches for 285 yards and three touchdowns, with one of those touchdowns coming in the Super Bowl. But the 49ers needed one more score from him to beat the Baltimore Ravens as time was running out and were unable to get it. Crabtree, who had a 24-yard catch to move the ball into Ravens territory, was the intended receiver on a quick rollout pass on third-and-goal and a fade on fourth-and-goal that sailed over his head as he was defended by Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith. Niners coach Jim Harbaugh wanted a pass-interference call on both plays but was denied by the officials.
A huge blow to the San Francisco 49ers, Michael Crabtree was expected to finally enter the upper echelon of NFL wide receivers in 2013, following
breakout performances during the 49ers Super Bowl run last season. It looked like Crabtree was on his way to reaching number one receiver status, which is what the 49ers expected of him when they drafted him tenth overall in the 2009 draft, but his season is over before it started.
The 49ers did sign veteran Anquan Boldin this offseason, and his addition will soften the blow of losing Crabtree, but it will be interesting to see if they look to the free agent market at several big name but troubled wide receivers who can replace Crabtree’s big play ability.
The 49ers are still clearly a playoff team without Crabtree, he was their best receiver, but he was a luxury. This team will win by running the football, playing defense and Colin Kaepermick’s read-option. The 49ers have enough depth at wide receiver to survive and thrive without Crabtree.