SANTA CLARA The 49ers are back where they began the offseason at wide receiver.
Brandon Jones is expected to miss eight weeks after sustaining a fracture of his right shoulder while diving for a pass in practice. And draft pick Michael Crabtrees contract impasse reached its 11th day on Friday with no end in sight.
Jones and Crabtree represent the 49ers biggest offseason investments. And now there are legitimate concerns about when either will be available to make contributions.
Jones, who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans, became the 49ers highest-paid receiver in March when he signed a five-year, $16.5 million contract with $5.4 million of guaranteed money.
When Crabtree signs his rookie deal if he signs his rookie deal he will overtake Jones on the payroll. The 49ers have offered Crabtree, the No. 10 pick in the draft, a contract believed to include more than $16 million in guarantees.
Thankfully, we have some receivers, and I know we have some that are capable of stepping in and doing a good job, 49ers coach Mike Singletary said. I hate that we lost Brandon Jones. Hes making great strides, doing a great job. But, thankfully, he will be back after that period.
Jones had been one of the bright spots during camp, as he and quarterback Alex Smith appeared to build a rapport on deep pass routes. Jones had taken a clear lead as the teams No. 3 wideout behind presumptive starters Isaac Bruce and Josh Morgan. But Jones will be sidelined for two months after landing on his shoulder in practice Thursday afternoon during a 7-on-7 drill.
Veteran Arnaz Battle, who is in a fight for a roster spot, was the 49ers leading pass-catcher among the wide receivers in 2006 and 07. He now has an opportunity to distinguish himself and reclaim a significant role in the offense.
Jason Hill, Dominique Zeigler and Micheal Spurlock have all seen action in previous NFL seasons and continue to compete for roster spots, too. Former Green Bay Packers receiver Chris Francies was signed as a free agent on Friday.