SANTA CLARA -- Receiver Michael Crabtree's absence from training camp has been one of the major storylines in each of his four summers with the 49ers.
There was his contract stalemate as a rookie, followed by a whiplash injury a week into his second training camp that prevented him from suiting up for any exhibition games. Last year, Crabtree underwent surgery to repair a left foot fracture just prior to the start of camp.As a fourth-year professional, Crabtree was completely healthy when camp began on July 27. But he sustained a lower right leg injury late in the first practice. He has not been on the field since. On Friday, he missed his sixth consecutive day of practice.
"The thing I feel for Michael -- I know he's feeling, too -- he came (into camp) in such great shape," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He looked fantastic. 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'll be a minor one. He's chomping at the bit to get back out there and I anticipate that happening soon."Crabtree will have to get cleared to return to practice soon if he has any hope of ending his streak of 12 exhibition games without suiting up. Crabtree was seen rehabbing on a side field Friday. He ran distances in which he slowly built up to near top speed.Harbaugh said he does not anticipate any lingering impact on the rapport between Crabtree and quarterback Alex Smith because of the amount of quality work they achieved during the offseason program."Both of them had fantastic offseasons," Harbaugh said. "Michael was lean, in shape, tip-top shape, moving extremely well. So I don't anticipate any issues when he gets back."Likewise, Smith said he is not concerned that there will be any long-term impact from the time Crabtree misses at the start of this camp."At this point, I'm not worried about it," Smith said. "He had such a great spring and summer. I don't know when he's going to be back, but we 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 be back and get some good work in."Last year, Crabtree was inactive for the second game of the regular season with his foot injury. Through three weeks, Crabtree caught just four passes for 28 yards. He ended the regular season as the 49ers' top receiver with 72 catches for 874 yards.
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