The 49ers would love to have wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) back by the end of November. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
As Michael Crabtree starts working his way back to the football field, he’ll be doing it with a more aerodynamic look.
This week, the day before the Fourth of July, the 49ers’ standout wide receiver posted on Twitter that he had “cut all my hair off,” and Niners cornerback Chris Culliver posted a short video on Instagram of Crabtree getting his thick hair buzzed.
Obviously, Crabtree is looking for a fresh start.
His severe haircut came just four days after Crabtree tweeted he would start working out again, following May 22 surgery to repair a torn right Achilles’ tendon suffered during a team drill.
Though many believe San Francisco’s No. 1 wideout won’t play or be a factor this season, Crabtree has said he intends to get back on the field in 2013. Shortly after Crabtree was injured, in fact, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh told the media Crabtree is not expected to miss the entire season. Though in the past Achilles’ tears were career-killers, advances in medicine in recent years have allowed players such as Demaryius Thomas and Terrell Suggs to rebound in about six months. Thomas, a Broncos wide receiver, said he didn’t feel he was back to 100 percent until seven months after his injury, and he didn’t become a force for the Broncos until the 10-month mark.
“It’s a little difficult. You’ve just got to take your time,” Thomas told NFL.com, when asked about what Crabtree faces. “He’s a great player, and I’m sure he’s going to work hard to get back. But it’s difficult at first, because it took a while for me to be able to do anything.”
At this point, Crabtree is expected to be able to put weight on his foot and work out on a stationary bike or elliptical machine, reported Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. Barrows spoke with several orthopedic surgeons about what Crabtree can expect during his rehab, and they suggest Crabtree’s earliest expected return would be six months, which would be late November.
That would be good news for the Niners, who definitely will miss their go-to guy, who had his best season in 2012, with 85 catches for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns in the regular season. He added 20 catches for 285 yards and three TDs in the postseason.
This year, the 49ers will count on veteran Anquan Boldin to be the primary wideout target for quarterback Colin Kaepernick, while hoping a number of receivers on the roster – such as A.J. Jenkins, Quinton Patton and Kyle Williams – can take a big step forward.
But both Harbaugh and Crabtree are hopeful that the team’s top pass catcher can be a nice late-season addition.
“Good news is he woke up from the surgery and first thing he asked (the) doc (was) how it went,” Harbaugh told reporters after Crabtree’s surgery. “So he talked about the success of the surgery and that he didn’t anticipate that he’d be out for the year. And his comment to that was he’s got no choice but to be back. So, every day now is a healing day. And that starts today.”
And this week, he’s already back in the gym.