The San Francisco 49ers welcomed back wide receiver Michael Crabtree today in their win over the St. Louis Rams. All in all, he played well, with 2 catches for 68 yards—one of them on a 60 yarder. He didn’t quite seem to have the extra gear that he has had, but that should return soon.
On the other hand, just as Crabtree returns, All-Pro left tackle Joe Staley left with an apparent knee injury. Losing him could cast a dark shadow over Crabtree’s return. Even though Staley is not a “skill-position player,” he is arguably the best left tackle in the NFL. With guard Mike Iupati out for the immediate future, losing Staley would severely weaken the offensive line. Alex Boone shifted from guard to tackle with Joe Looney replacing him. Adam Snyder is a great depth player on the line, and Looney has a lot of potential, but neither are quality starters right now.
Presumably Staley will get an MRI or some examination on his knee tonight or tomorrow. He did walk to the locker room on his own power, so hopefully he is ok—or at least not too badly injured. The sooner he comes back, the better. The 49ers are getting many players back for the stretch run and look poised to get hot. Whether or not they actually do could boil down to the trenches and, in particular, the health of the offensive line.