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Paul Kitagaki / The Sacramento Bee

Michael Crabtree’s burst and explosion were still works in progress when he returned to the lineup last year.

Teammates: Crabtree never was fully healthy last season

Published: Thursday, Jun. 19, 2014 - 4:15 pm

Michael Crabtree averaged 61 receiving yards a game and helped lift the 49ers' floundering passing attack when he returned from his Achilles' injury on Dec. 1. But his teammates said that despite the near miraculous recovery – Crabtree completely tore the Achilles' on May 21 – he never was himself last season, including during his showndown with Richard Sherman in the NFC Championship game.

He is now.

“He's a lot more explosive,” fellow receiver Anquan Boldin said. “I just see him being back to his old self. For him, we're taking things slow. We want to make sure that he goes into the season healthy.”

Colin Kaepernick agreed: “At the end of last year he still wasn’t 100 percent. He has a lot more burst to him now. Looks really good.”

As Boldin alluded, the 49ers were careful with Crabtree's workload during their spring sessions, and he didn't take part in any 11-on-11 work in the three-day minicamp that ended today. But he is expected to be full-go for the start of the season, bolstering the notion that the 49ers' passing attack will be far deeper and more robust than it was last year.

Not only did Crabtree miss most of the season, then-rookie Quinton Patton sat out 10 weeks as he recovered from a broken foot. Patton was one of the standouts of the recent minicamp.

“He looks good,” Boldin said. “He's not hampered by the foot injury anymore. He's out there having fun, playing football. You can see he's a lot more comfortable now.”

In addition, the 49ers brought in two veteran receivers, Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd, and drafted another, Bruce Ellington, in the fourth round. Ellington received post-minicamp praise from head coach Jim Harbaugh and Kaepernick.

“Bruce has been amazing out here,” Kaepernick said. “He’s picked thing up very quickly. Good route runner. Very good feel for the game and he’s made plays when we’ve given him the opportunity.”

Asked if all that firepower means that Kaepernick will be passing more this season, the quarterback carefully crafted his reply. “I want to see this offense do whatever it has to to win games,” he said. “That's really most important. (But) I'm always good to throw a few more balls.”

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Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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