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Niners WR Crabtree will make NFL debut next week at Houston

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Michael Crabtree will make his NFL debut in his home state as planned.

The San Francisco 49ers' rookie wide receiver is set to take the field for the first time at Houston on Oct. 25 following the team's bye week.


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"That's my first game home, so I'm very excited about the opportunity to play at home," Crabtree said Wednesday.

Coach Mike Singletary said when Crabtree signed last week he expected Crabtree to be ready by next weekend, and the coach is pleased with the progress he's made so far in practice.

"Oh, he will play," Singletary said. "Michael's doing fine. He's working his tail off. I think every day he gets out here and every rep that he takes, it makes him that much better. He's been studying his tail off and it shows when he's out here. He doesn't have a whole lot of questions on the field. He's running the right routes, he's doing the right things. It's just a matter of us taking every step with every second, every minute to get him up to speed and ready to go."

Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye has said he plans to use Crabtree as a slot receiver on third downs against the Texans. Raye and Crabtree stood on the practice field talking football for several minutes Wednesday after others had gone inside to the locker room.

Crabtree is proving to be a quick learner as Singletary had hoped. His first game will be merely 2 1/2 weeks after the 10th overall draft pick finally agreed to a six-year contract with $17 million guaranteed. He was the last draft pick to sign, having waited to try to get money comparable to higher picks.

The 22-year-old Crabtree spent Sunday's 45-10 home loss to Atlanta on the sideline watching and trying to get a feel for the speed at this level.

"I wanted to be out there," Crabtree said. "It's hard to watch games from the sideline when you're part of an organization. I was happy to be there and see how things go before I got on the field."

The 49ers (3-2) are integrating Crabtree into the mix with a small package of plays initially, and he will work out at team headquarters all week while his teammates get a break to go home.

"It's a process. I've got good teammates helping me do what I need to do to get my job done," Crabtree said. "We're working this thing. We're football players. Everybody's professional."

Backup quarterback Alex Smith, who lives in the area, will throw to Crabtree. Receivers coach Jerry Sullivan will supervise Crabtree's sessions with help from Wendell Davis, a former teammate of Singletary with the Chicago Bears who has been brought in to aid Sullivan in getting Crabtree up to speed.

"He's going to be working. We really want hands-on all the way," Singletary said. "Crabtree wants to play, so he wants to be here."

Also Wednesday, strong safety Michael Lewis was scheduled for a test after sustaining his third concussion of the season during Sunday's game. Singletary said an encouraging sign was that Lewis recovered quickly on the sideline afterward and could have returned.

Lewis said he hopes to play against the Texans. He suffered two concussions during an 11-day span in the preseason.

"I feel great," he said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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