SANTA CLARA — Wide receiver Michael Crabtree's recovery from a torn Achilles is progressing well enough that the 49ers are hoping he'll be ready to play next month, coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday.
Crabtree, the 49ers' leading receiver last season, tore his right Achilles on May 21.
"Mid to late November is what we're hoping for," Harbaugh said. "He seems to be on track for that. He's starting to run."
Crabtree has not commented publicly since the injury, but he has privately expressed optimism about his recovery and gratitude for the widespread encouragement he's received among his teammates and around the sports world.
"I talk to him every day and things seem to be going well," Harbaugh said. "He's been very positive and upbeat."
Crabtree started the season on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list, meaning the 49ers can take him off it between next week and through Nov. 19 to begin practicing. A 21-day practice period follows, so the 49ers could delay his debut until Dec. 15.
Harbaugh expects four other players on PUP or the non-football-injury list to start practicing next week, when they become eligible: wide receiver Mario Manningham (knee), cornerback Eric Wright (personal issue), rookie defensive tackle Tank Carradine (knee) and rookie nose tackle Quinton Dial (foot).
Carradine and Dial are much-needed additions for a defensive front that could be without Ray McDonald, who sustained a biceps injury and was undergoing an MRI Monday. Harbaugh was still awaiting those MRI results during Monday's noon press conference.
While Carradine was a second-round pick out of Florida State, Dial was a fifth-round choice who's gotten his weight up from a listed 318 pounds to 340 or 350 pounds, Harbaugh said.
The 49ers have struggled to replace Crabtree's productivity among a young wide-receiver corps, outside of veteran Anquan Boldin (26 receptions, 393 yards, two touchdowns). The only other wideouts with receptions: Kyle Williams (nine for 87 yards), Jon Baldwin (two for 19) and Marlon Moore (one for 6).
Baldwin made his starting debut Sunday but caught neither pass that came his way in a 34-3 win over the Houston Texans.
Tight end Vernon Davis has been Colin Kaeeprnick's other go-to target aside from Boldin. Davis has 14 catches for 214 yards and four touchdowns, including a 64-yard score Sunday.