San Francisco 49ers

49ers notes: Crabtree says slow start unrelated to prior foot injury

Michael Crabtree conceded his season is off to a disappointing start, but he bristled at the notion it’s connected to a foot injury that briefly sidelined him earlier this year.

Against the Eagles in Week 4, Crabtree left the game to have doctors examine his left foot. He was on the team’s injury report the following week with a foot ailment but hasn’t appeared on the report since.

“What are you talking about about a foot?” a peeved Crabtree asked. “I’ve played eight (actually four) games since then, and you’re talking about my foot? We’re good, man. That ain’t even a question to even ask me.”

Crabtree has dealt with a broken foot twice since 2009, and last year he tore his Achilles’ tendon during an offseason workout. He returned from that injury late in the 2013 season and declared himself fully recovered before training camp and the final year of his contract.

Crabtree’s production, however, has fallen.

His 362 receiving yards rank second among 49ers behind Anquan Boldin. But they’re only six more than Stevie Johnson’s total, despite Crabtree getting more than double Johnson’s snaps. Crabtree also has a team-leading seven drops this season.

“I always have high expectations for myself,” he said. “It ain’t where I want it to be. That’s why I work hard every day. That’s why I try to catch every pass. Whatever they give me, I just try my hardest to work with it. I’ve been here before. You guys see what you see.”

Willis sits again – Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said linebacker Patrick Willis is questionable for Sunday’s gameagainst the Saints. After going through individual drills last week, Willis has missed two practices this week while he tries to come back from a strained toe on his left foot.

“I don’t think he suffered a setback; it just hasn’t gotten much better,” Fangio said. “It’s questionable. As the week rolls on, if he doesn’t start practicing at some point, it starts moving to doubtful.”

If Willis can’t play, rookie Chris Borland will make his third consecutive start. Borland had a strong showing Sunday against the Rams with 18 tackles, a league high this season.

“I think the biggest thing you’re looking for there, which happened, is he got better from his first start to his second start, which can happen particularly if you’re a smart guy and a prideful guy, which he is,” Fangio said of Borland. “He’s going to continue to improve the more he plays.”

And once Willis returns? Would Fangio consider pairing Willis and Borland?

“We’ll make that decision at that time,” he said. “I haven’t really thought about that yet.”

Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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