Michael Crabtree not only is okay after sitting out the last one and half practices of training camp, Greg Roman thinks the 49ers receiver is in better shape than ever.
“I think this training camp, as look at it, I'm saying that he's better than the old Michael Crabtree,” the 49ers offensive coordinator said. “Why? His physical conditioning, his understanding of the game. I think he played the games last year under less-than-ideal circumstances and had to adjust his game a little bit to account for that.”
Crabtree, of course, missed most of the 2013 season with a torn Achilles' he suffered in May. He returned in December and played eight games, finishing with 487 receiving yards. Despite those respectable stats, Roman said Crabtree was not nearly back at full speed.
“He came off the Achilles' injury and just really gutted it out at the end of the year,” he said. “I don't have this as a fact, but I don't know if everybody would have played that early coming off that injury.”
Roman's interaction with the media comes out of the Jim Harbaugh playbook. He even used Harbaugh's famous “he's working through something” to describe Crabtree's injury. In that way, Roman has a tendency, like Harbaugh, to gush about his players.
But his assessment of Crabtree is not hyperbole. The receiver has looked very good so far in training camp, and has looked stronger – especially on contested balls over the middle – than he ever has before.
Crabtree left Wednesday's practice after a trainer looked at his lower leg. He didn't limp as he walked off the field. “He should be fine,” Roman said. “Taking part in all of the meetings.” Crabtree has had an aversion to the preseason in years' past. He's only taken part in one – 2012's – since he was drafted in 2009.
Crabtree has not spoken with the local media since the NFC Championship game.
Receiver Brandon Lloyd also missed practice and also is just “working through something,” Roman said. ….Chris Culliver returned to practice but Tramaine Brock did not. … Demarcus Dobbs missed his second straight practice. He is dealing with a personal matter and should be back tomorrow. … Rookie Marcus Martin took part in individual drills and seems close to returning in a full capacity.