Michael Crabtree likely back in mid-to-late November


Back in September, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said any production San Francisco got from Michael Crabtree this season would be "gravy."

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Thanksgiving was floated as the earliest we'd see the receiver play after his Achilles tendon surgery in May, but could it be sooner?

NFL Media columnist Michael Silver reported on NFL Network's "NFL GameDay Morning" that 49ers sources view mid-to-late November as a realistic target date for Crabtree's return. Getting him back would represent a major boost for quarterback Colin Kaepernick and a passing game short on reliable targets.

One team source told Silver that "we're settling into the new normal, and we don't really feel as comfortable with (Kap) running (the ball) without Alex Smith as his backup."

Crabtree's timetable is promising, but it might take weeks -- if not much longer -- for the pass-catcher to find his sea legs. Denver Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas said he didn't feel like himself until seven months after suffering the same injury. Thomas' current play tells us Crabtree has a strong chance to return to form, but patience is required.

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