– Michael Crabtree averaged 61 receiving yards a game and helped lift the 49ers’ foundering passing attack when he returned from his Achilles injury 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 his showndown with Seattle star cornerback Richard Sherman in the NFC Championship Game.
He is now.
“He’s a lot more explosive,” fellow wide receiver Anquan Boldin said Thursday. “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 participate in any 11-on-11 work in the three-day minicamp that ended Thursday. 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 with a broken foot. Patton was one of the standouts of the recent minicamp.
“(Patton) 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 wide receivers, Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd, and drafted another, Bruce Ellington, in the fourth round. Ellington received post-minicamp praise from coach Jim Harbaugh and Kaepernick.
“Bruce has been amazing out here,” Kaepernick said. “He’s picked things 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.”
• The 49ers plan to have three training camp practices at Levi’s Stadium that will be open to fans. Cramped conditions on their practice fields mean there have been no open practices since 2011. Dates for the open sessions will be announced later.
• During the break before training camp, Harbaugh will go on his annual trip to Piura, Peru, where he helps build homes and perform other charitable work in conjunction with a church there. This year, Harbaugh said, he’s bringing his older kids.