Michael Crabtree on the practice field. Mario Manningham lined up on the opposite side. Just the way the San Francisco 49ers drew it up.
Except Sunday against the St. Louis Rams might be the first time it’s actually looked that way in a game since Manningham injured his knee last December at Seattle. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the full receiving corps was dressed and active.
Crabtree tore his right Achilles’ tendon during organized team activities in May and hasn’t played this season. He was cleared to resume practice earlier this month and was added to the 53-man roster on Tuesday.
More significantly, Crabtree’s name is absent from the 49ers injury report for this week’s game at Candlestick Park, giving a strong indication that he will be active and in the lineup. If Crabtree is active on Sunday, it seems logical that Jonathan Baldwin would be the odd man out–he hasn’t made a catch since Oct. 13, has only three receptions all season and doesn’t play on special teams.
Manningham, meanwhile, has only been back since Nov. 10. In three games, he has eight receptions for 83 yards, including four grabs for 45 yards at Washington Monday night.
Quinton Patton is also practicing this week, the first time he’s done so since breaking his foot in a win at St. Louis on Sept. 26.
The absences have been noticeable: The 49ers are last in the NFL in passing offense and Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis are the only players with touchdown receptions this season. Last year, seven different 49ers hauled in scoring passes.
The last time the 49ers had just two players score receiving touchdowns was during their 4-12 disaster in 2005, when Brandon Lloyd and Arnaz Battle were the only receivers to find the secret passage to six points.