The 49ers struggled out of the gate in 2013 but they've righted the ship and will soon (?) get one of their most important offensive weapons back: Michael Crabtree's been cleared to practice.
Crabtree, San Francisco's top receiving weapon in 2012, went down with an Achilles tear in May and underwent surgery at the time. He was placed on the PUP list to start the season, where he remains for now.
Some time in November seemed like an optimistic -- if not aggressive? -- target date for his return. But that's what the 49ers have been eying all along. And Jim Harbaugh believes that the wideout could be back as "early as mid-to-late November."
It remains to be seen whether or not Crabtree can make a major impact on the Niners regular season. Achilles injuries definitely sap the explosiveness from players -- we saw as much with Terrell Suggs when he returned to the Ravens last year -- and it could take some time for Crabtree to get up to full speed.
He's got 21 days to practice now before the team decides whether or not to remove him from the PUP list and activate him.
Crabtree was a major difference maker in 2012 -- when Colin Kaepernick stepped in under center, Crabtree became his primary target and the two put up huge numbers down the stretch. If he can have even half that impact for a team that's struggled with wide receiver depth this year, it'll only make the Niners that much more dangerous.