EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The San Francisco 49ers activated wide receiver Michael Crabtree earlier this week, giving them the early Christmas gift of having their best playmaker back on the field for the stretch drive.
Of course, it figures into the St. Louis Rams' luck that Crabtree would return in time to face them in what has turned into an intriguing NFC West game involving one team firmly in the playoff mix and another knocking on the door.
After leaning on receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis to pick up the slack in the passing game, the Niners with Crabtree should be able to turn up the heat offensively.
“As it is right now, Anquan is the leading receiver by far," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "Then a tight end [Davis] is the next one. Not many other guys have a lot of catches. That’s just the design of their offense. You would think it would help to open their offense up a little bit.”
Of course, Crabtree is returning from a serious Achilles injury and hasn't played all season, leaving reasonable questions about just how much he can play Sunday against the Rams and, if he does play, just how effective he can be.
The Niners did not list Crabtree among the many players on their Wednesday injury report. That bodes well for his availability Sunday, but it remains to be seen how much he will play.
To nobody's surprise, San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh isn't tipping his hand.
“Hoping for the best that he would be able to play Sunday and prepare for him not playing, so it’s early in the week," Harbaugh said. "We’ll get a look at practice [Wednesday] and then see tomorrow, Friday, Saturday. I think it’s something that we’ll have to look at as the week goes on – how he practices, how he responds the next day will be very important.”
The Rams, meanwhile, are dealing with their share of injuries in the secondary, especially at cornerback, and seeing Crabtree in the lineup would only serve to make their job this weekend more difficult.
A roundup of Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com on Wednesday. … After the Ram-blings, word came that receiver/returner Tavon Austin had been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for November. … Next, it was this week's edition of the NFL Nation Buzz, a video look at the hot topics in St. Louis. … After that, we took a look at cornerback Cortland Finnegan's situation and discussed where he might (or might not) fit into the picture for next year after going on injured reserve because of an eye injury. … Finally, it was time for Wednesday's injury update as cornerback Trumaine Johnson, running back Zac Stacy and guard Chris Williams continue working their way back from concussions.
At stltoday.com, columnist Bernie Miklasz discusses the silence of team owner Stan Kroenke and the message it sends to the fan base.
Turf Show Times posits that the Rams' collection of running backs provide a bright future.
At FoxSports.com, Mike Pereira broke down some questionable calls from Sunday, including two from the Rams-Bears game.
All for today. Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for reading.