Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) scores a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens in the third quarter in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Does 49ers release of Williams signal a Crabtree return?

As was reported earlier, the San Francisco 49ers released wide receiver Kyle Williams this morning.  Williams was second on the team – which isn’t saying much – amongst wide receivers in total yardage with 12 receptions for 113 yards.

Mario Manningham made his return from knee surgery on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers and caught 3 passes for 30 yards – good enough to make him 3rd on the team amongst wide receivers on the season in yardage.

His three receptions tied him with the only other healthy receiver, Jon Baldwin, also for third on the team.

Add Anquan Boldin to the mix – who leads the team with 41 catches for 574 yards – and San Francisco has three healthy receivers on the roster with the release of Williams.

Does this signal a return of Michael Crabtree?

As was reported by Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News, Crabtree is eligible to return at any time.  With just three healthy receivers, could that time be now?

ESPN reports that Crabtree is expected back for the 49ers’ week 13 game against the St. Louis Rams, but that would leave them shorthanded against the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins until that December 1st NFC West showdown.

Quinton Patton remains out with a fractured foot, so the options are not many at the moment.

Crabtree, who caught 85 balls for 1105 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2012, has been out while rehabbing a torn Achilles all season.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers could sure use the help.

Kap went 11-of-22 for just 91 yards last week against the Panthers – albeit under tremendous pressure, he was sacked six times – and San Francisco ranks 32nd in the NFL in passing yardage per game.

Tags: Kyle Williams Michael Crabtree New Orleans Saints NFL San Francisco 49ers

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