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Michael Crabtree set to return to San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers are about to welcome back Michael Crabtree.

The fifth-year veteran receiver practiced for the third consecutive day Friday and is not listed on the 49ers' injury report. When asked if Crabtree will play Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, Niners coach Jim Harbaugh replied it "looks that way."

Crabtree -- sidelined all season by a torn Achilles tendon suffered in May -- was more definitive.

"I'm really ready to play," Crabtree said from his locker Friday, according to the 49ers' team site. "It's been a long time coming."

"I feel comfortable enough to play," Crabtree added. "I feel great."

Crabtree's presence has been sorely missed by the Niners this season. His absence forced Anquan Boldin into a bigger role than expected, and other receivers on the depth chart failed to make the most of their opportunities.

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Crabtree's return doesn't immediately solve San Francisco's passing game inconsistencies, however. Crabtree is coming off a serious injury, and it's possible -- even probable -- he won't be back to his 2012 form until next season.

Still, his return counts as good news for San Francisco. Crabtree emerged as a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver after Colin Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith midway through last season, and Crabtree will be a comforting presence for a quarterback who has struggled to find a groove.

How much we'll see of Crabtree remains to be seen -- don't be surprised if Crabtree's snap count is initially in the 15 to 20 range. If Crabtree can be a major part of San Francisco's game plan come January, they will have made the best of a difficult situation.

We previewed every Week 13 game in the latest "Around The League Podcast."

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