49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree will be sidelined for the start of training camp for the third straight year, this time with a foot injury that leaves his status for the preseason uncertain.
The 49ers announced Thursday night that Crabtree will be placed on the physically unable to perform list.
He was bothered by a foot injury that forced him out of informal workouts this summer led by quarterback Alex Smith and drew the ire of fans who question his work ethic and desire to be with the team.
Crabtree also missed training camp his rookie season because of a lengthy contract dispute. Last year, he sat out all four preseason games with a neck injury.
New coach Jim Harbaugh was scheduled to hold his first practice Friday. The 49ers also will be without rookie fullback Bruce Miller and receiver Dominique Zeigler. The team didn't disclose their injuries.
Crabtree's absence will put another dent in Harbaugh's preseason plans.
Smith, a free agent expected to re-sign with the team Friday, isn't allowed to practice or participate in any physical activities with the team until the new NFL year begins Aug. 4. With running back Frank
Gore yet to report for camp, that leaves the three most important pieces of the offense out. And perhaps nobody could use a full preseason more than Crabtree.
Missing training camp in 2009 slowed his rookie transition, and last season the timing between Crabtree and Smith was off early. Crabtree rallied strong to finish with 741 yards receiving and six touchdowns, but the 49ers ended 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the eighth straight year.
Crabtree got off to another rocky start this summer when he complained of sore feet after a workout at San Jose State led by Smith, and he only participated in meetings after the first day during the informal minicamp. He also openly challenged Smith's status as the starter when he arrived and downplayed the quarterback's efforts to organize the workouts.
The 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft held out that training camp waiting to approve his contract.
After a 71-day stalemate between Crabtree and the team, he agreed to a six-year deal with $17 million guaranteed.