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Jim Harbaugh anticipates Michael Crabtree in lineup

The return of Michael Crabtree is upon us.

The San Francisco 49ers wide receiver was activated Tuesday and could play as early as Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, per the San Francisco Chronicle.

Lifting Crabtree from the reserve/physically unable to perform list comes as no surprise. After practicing for the past three weeks, the receiver had to be added to the 53-man roster Tuesday to be eligible for the team's final five games. Whether he'll play Sunday remains something of a mystery.

"I anticipate that he's going to come back this week," coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters after Monday night's 27-6throttling of the Redskins.

The 49ers didn't need Crabtree against the Redskins, but he's a welcome sight for a San Francisco passing game stamped by inconsistency this season. At his best, quarterback Colin Kaepernick has carved up teams with wide receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis serving as his top targets, but the third-year passer has struggled against the league's better secondaries.

It's unfair to expect Crabtree to pop back into form out of the gate just six months removed from surgery to repair a fully torn Achilles tendon. Realistically, we might not see him at 100 percent until 2014, but his presence in the lineup will help a team still very much in contention for the Super Bowl.

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