Report: Crabtree likely to start for 49ers

Updated: October 20, 2009, 10:29 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Michael Crabtree will make his debut in his home state of Texas, and The Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press Democrat reported there's a good chance he will start.

Singletary has long given Crabtree the benefit of the doubt, believing the former Texas Tech star will shine at this level. Even if that meant playing catch-up in the past two weeks after missing so much time with a contract holdout.

"There are some things that you can prepare him for, but there are other things that he just has to go through and I think that this is one of them," Singletary said of Crabtree's first game.

"You have to let those guys line up against him and put their hands on you and see some of the complexities of the defense and how they are setting you up. You come to the sideline with your head on a swivel a little bit, but I don't think that it's going to be too big for him. To me, even though he's come in late, he looks like he's ready."

Crabtree's teammates seem to have moved past his prolonged contract impasse, and are more focused now on what he can do to help the team. San Francisco (3-2) leads the NFC West, with wins already over the reigning NFC champion Arizona Cardinals and Seattle.

"I think [Crabtree] can do well, man," running back Frank Gore said. "Just by watching him in college. He was one of the best players in college. Just watching him in the bye week, he looks how he's supposed to look. He has great hands and he runs good routes. Like I tell him: 'Just go out there and play football. As long as you know what you're doing, you'll be fine.'"

According to Niners wide receiver Josh Morgan, Crabtree will start the game opposite Isaac Bruce, The Press Democrat reported.

"They gave him my spot," Morgan said, according to the report. "So if he's going to be in there, I might as well help him out so I can make sure he gets it right."

The evaluation process with Crabtree will be ongoing. Along with his work on the field last week, he spent time in the film room.

The 49ers like what they see so far on all fronts. Singletary & Co. know they'll learn much more about Crabtree during and after Sunday's game with the Texans.

"Obviously, once you get in the game when the real bullets are flying, that's when you can really tell that, 'You know what, are we helping or hurting his confidence? Is he ready for this? Do we need to back off a bit?'" Singletary said. "Or if, 'Hey, he's ready, let's pick it up a little bit.' So, I think he'll tell us."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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