Michael Crabtree was the 49ers’ top receiver in 2012, but Colin Kaepernick may not have him available next season.
Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon during San Francisco’s organized team activities on Tuesday, according to Mike Garafolo of USA Today. He is expected to undergo what could be season-ending surgery to repair the tendon.
The injury used to be an automatic season-ender, but in recent years players have been known to recover quicker and return to the field in the same year. Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and Buccaneers defensive end Da’Quan Bowers both made a full recovery and were able to play for at least part of last season.
Crabtree, 25, led the 49ers with 85 catches, 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012, and he was expected to be relied upon even more in 2013. Now, veteran Anquan Boldin, second-year receiver A.J. Jenkins and rookie Quinton Patton will be expected to fill Crabtree’s void on the outside.
The 49ers are slated in as Super Bowl favorites just months after falling a few yards short of capturing the title in New Orleans. Crabtree’s absence would put a significant dent in those odds and might even open up the NFC West to a dominant Seattle Seahawks defense and burgeoning St. Louis Rams roster.