Here's where it gets spotty, especially if they don't look for help outside the organization. Wideouts Mario Manningham (ACL rehab), A.J. Jenkins and rookie Quinton Patton look primed to fight for secondary looks. (Don't bother with Kyle Williams, also going through ACL rehab.) Manningham's experience doesn't forgive his inconsistency, especially with route running. Though he could sniff 2010 numbers again (60-944-9 with the New York Giants), they're likely more so an anomaly, and if he doesn't heal properly, he won't make much headway.
Consider Jenkins and Patton a step below, but these deep-league lotto tickets might not be for long. Jenkins was almost non-existent in his rookie year, so many might be skeptical of his impact, but that's the way Jim Harbaugh treats most of his youngsters. "Sit. Learn. Put it into practice when you're ready." Jenkins added muscle this offseason and might've earned a promotion because he just absorbed everything last year while showing coach he can mature.
Patton's history in Louisiana Tech's up-tempo offense under Sonny Dykes could wind up being a solid springboard to San Fran's system, at least in comfort with game speed if not schematics. Of course, with Harbaugh's slow timetable for first-year players, he might not get the chance, instead yielding to intriguing bubble candidate but raw-at-age-27 Ricardo Lockette. But with such a big piece being removed from the lineup, Harbaugh could change course, at least for a few weeks.
Crabtree's injury could also mean more looks for the running backs, but this messy distribution doesn't stand to improve any one of these carriers' chances at targets ... maybe LaMichael James'.
No. 15's absence will hurt Colin Kaepernick but not to the point where the Pistol sheriff will fall below fantasy-starter status. The low end of the ADP QB1 bracket remains the right region for him.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
Don't miss these great reports....