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Michael Crabtree: 'Going in Right Direction'

Posted Nov 6, 2013

Michael Crabtree is working hard to return to the field, but taking a careful approach.

Michael Crabtree was all alone on the field at the start of Wednesday's 49ers practice.

"I was the first person out there today, stretching for no reason," the fifth-year wideout said shortly after the two-hour workout. "I'm just excited to be back."

Crabtree was cleared to practice on Tuesday and has been on a "pitch count," according to head coach Jim Harbaugh.

"Good to have him back, you know, 15 reporting eligible," the 49ers coach said before practice. "Everybody kind of watches out of the corner of their eyes, they’re doing their drills and it’s neat to see any player that comes back from a serious injury. Understanding the grueling rehab that’s taken place. The mental toughness, grinding through those rehab sessions to be where they are now and that’s an exciting day when they trot out there in uniform and start taking reps.”

Now that he's taking the practice reps, Crabtree said he's making progress from the Achilles injury he suffered at Organized Team Activities in May.

The star play-maker, however, is not circling a return date just yet. The 49ers have a three-week period to evaluate his progress and determine if he should be activated from the team's Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list.

PHOTOS: Crabtree Back At Practice

Ever since his injury, Crabtree has been constantly asking questions to his teammate Kendall Hunter, a third-year running back, who overcame the same injury last season.

"I talk to Kendall a lot," Crabtree said. "I'm pretty much done with the questions, now it's getting ready to play."

The 49ers leading wideout from 2012 said he's taking things carefully in his return to the field. Running routes has been the biggest part of his practice work so far. Crabtree has only taken part in individual periods of practice.

"I'm just trying to get better every day," he said.

The 6-foot-1, 214-pound wideout has admittedly been cautious when it comes to jumping to catch the ball.

"I'm really just trying to let my feet hit the ground," said Crabtree, who has been sprinting hard for the past two weeks to get himself ready to rejoin the 49ers.

"I really want to get back out there. I'm excited, so they had to calm me down."

Crabtree is now six months removed from his injury and is pleased with the feedback from the team's medical staff.

"The doctors say I'm going in the right direction," Crabtree said. "So I'm just going to keep going, step by step, one step at a time."

Harbaugh, too, has marveled over Crabtree's quick recovery.

"I don’t know the surprise there," the 49ers coach said. "I guess because you watch him day-to-day, successful surgery, on track at every point, doing everything that he was asked to do by the doctors and all reports were really good. (Baltimore Ravens LB) Terrell Suggs would be maybe the other one that I’m aware of. He played in a game five months, 28 days from his surgery. So, that seems to be the common ground, that sixth month (period). But, they’re different positions. Who knows for certain how that plays into it.”

Crabtree will rely on what his own body's feedback before he pushes himself to play in a game. For now, being back with the team is what matters most.

His time away from the field was tough for the veteran wideout.

"It's a roller coaster, being away from the game for so long," Crabtree said. "I'm just happy to be out there running routes, getting my feet to the ground, you know?"

"It was hard in the beginning," Crabtree added. "I just took it one day at a time trying to come back. The day I got hurt was the day I was trying to come back."

Crabtree we'll know he's ready once he goes through a full practice with Colin Kaepernick and the first-team offense.

"Really get through a whole practice," Crabtree said. "Really get into the groove of things with 'Kap' and those guys, the offensive line. Really just get in-tune with the whole team.

"Once I do that, I'm going to be ready to play."

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