The San Francisco 49ers just suffered a major blow as wide receiver Michael Crabtree has suffered a torn Achilles tendon. It is a devastating blow for the defending NFC champs, but luckily is has come sooner rather than later. While the injury is most likely season ending, it gives the 49ers time to adapt a new game plan or go out and sign someone. However it plays out, the 49ers front office has to work its magic once again.
With no clear in house replacement for Colin Kaepernick's favorite target, the 49ers must look to the remaining available free agents. Three names come to my mind, each with positives and negatives. First up is Brandon Lloyd. He is a former 49er, and might sign for less for the chance to finish out his career with a contender. He has the ability to be a down field threat and has proven to be a tough player. His biggest downside is his reputation as a locker room cancer. He has become unwelcome is New England and Denver. Next is Devery Henderson. He isn't as accomplished as Lloyd, but he is another proven down field threat. He has the speed to stretch the defense, and that is huge for a team that relies so much on the run. His biggest perceived problem is that almost 10 years in the league, he has never stepped up as the main guy for his team. Lastly, and most unlikely, is the return of Randy Moss. Everyone knows the future hall of famer can still play and is the most dangerous deep threat ever to play the game. His problem is similar to Lloyd's, in that both have a reputation for speaking their minds regardless of what the team or coaches think. I am not sure the team would be willing to bring him back after some less than stellar remarks last year.
If I was GM Trent Balke, I would take a long look at Brandon Lloyd. He is younger than Moss and has done more in the league than Henderson. I would try to sell him on the prospect of ending his career the right way. He can be a major contributor on a team who has their sights set on a Super Bowl victory. Then, I would take to coach Harbaugh. I would make sure he was OK with bringing on a perceived locker room threat. I don't think Harbaugh would have a problem because his locker room is very tight and would not allow an outsider to tarnish what they have built. The likes of Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman and Justin Smith will not allow dissent. While losing Crabtree is not the end of the season, what the team does to replace him could be.