Practice No. 3 for Michael Crabtree came and went without incident. Crabtree is still wearing a logo-less helmet with "Crabtree" taped to the front - "That will take care of itself," Mike Singletary said - and he still ran routes with the scout-team offense. Crabtree's straight-line speed was a question mark heading into the draft because his foot injury prevented him from running the 40-yard dash. Asked about that speed today, teammates said it was too soon to say, especially since Crabtree hasn't run any go routes.
But they did comment on his suddenness - his ability to get off the line of scrimmage and get in and out of breaks. "He stops and starts pretty fast," safety Dashon Goldson said. "Getting from point A to point B is what it's about, and he looks like he's getting there fast." Quarterback Alex Smith, who has thrown Crabtree the most passes, said everyone will start to get a better sense of Crabtree in coming weeks when he begins running the 49ers' routes instead of those of the other team. Even so, "It's pretty obvious just in the little we've seen from him that he has pretty good skills," Smith said.
Singletary had an interesting anecdote that sums up where Crabtree finds himself after missing 10 weeks due to a contract dispute:
"I tell you something a little funny. The other day when he first got here, he went out and he ran a route. And he really put a lot into that route. I mean, it was great moves, excellent route. And at this level, the cornerbacks sometime read the quarterback and they know what the route is. So Nate (Clements) just let him go ahead and do his stuff and the next thing you know (Crabtree) had turned around for the ball and Nate was catching the ball. So Crabtree kind of turned around and said, 'How did that happen? I know that was a great move.' In college that worked. But that was funny to see that. He knows this is another level. It is different."
I watched Crabtree throughout today's practice. Given the fact that his 49ers career is three days old, he spends a lot more time observing than running routes. But he has been talking to the right people while he watches. At various times he was talking with Smith, fellow quarterback Shaun Hill, quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. He spends the most time with fellow rookie Nate Davis, who appears to be his best friend on the team. Those who take part in Fantasy Football keeper leagues might want to take note.
Patrick Willis was added to the injury report today with an abdominal strain. He's listed as probable. Scott McKillop practiced in Willis' place today. Singletary said that was merely a precaution. Frank Gore (foot, ankle), Reggie Smith (groin) and Jeff Ulbrich (concussion) are out for Sunday's game, Marques Harris (hamstring) is questionable and David Baas (ankle), Arnaz Battle (hand), Manny Lawson (illness), Allen Rossum (back) are probable. Singletary said that Rossum is a game-time decision.
Singletary said he met this morning with his offensive line, which is trying to bounce back from a poor game against the Rams.
-- Matt Barrows