SANTA CLARA — Two years removed from his own Achilles' tear, Denver Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas advised Michael Crabtree to "take your time" before returning to the 49ers.
Crabtree tore his right Achilles' tendon Tuesday as the 49ers began organized team activities. Team doctors told coach Jim Harbaugh that Crabtree's surgery Wednesday was not of the season-ending variety.
"He's a great player, and I'm sure he's going to work hard to get back and listen to all the people that he's got to listen to," Thomas told reporters Wednesday at the Broncos facility. "But it's difficult at first, because it took a while for me to be able to do anything."
Thomas took seven months to come back from his February 2011 injury. He suggested he wasn't at full strength until September 2012. Complemented by Peyton Manning's arrival, Thomas produced career-best numbers (94 receptions, 1,434 yards, 10 touchdowns) last season en route to his first Pro Bowl selection.
Crabtree, 25, is two months older, two inches shorter and some 10 pounds lighter than Thomas, who is 6-foot-3, 229 pounds.
Kendall Hunter, Crabtree's teammate, also is coming off a similar injury, having torn his left Achilles' tendon Nov. 25 at New Orleans. Hunter's rehabilitation appears on track six months later, as he participated Wednesday in individual drills before running under a trainer's supervision on a side field.
"There was a different process with Kendall," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday. " ... They took more time after the injury to do the surgery. And it's a bit of a different approach, the way I understand it talking to the doctors."
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs needed only five months and six days to return to game action after surgery on his torn Achilles' last year.
"What drove me to work so hard was the possibility of being here," Suggs said days before his Ravens beat the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. "I knew we had a team that was right there on the brink, was always on the brink, so I just wanted to be a part of it."
Suggs wasn't the only NFL player to return last season from an Achilles' injury. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Da'Quan Bowers had surgery last May 11 on his right Achilles'. Bowers started the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list, began practicing Oct. 17 and made his season debut Oct. 25 in a limited role.
"It was the rehab that was the hardest part," Bowers told the Tampa Bay Times in November, referring to his time running in pools, riding an exercise bike, boxing and climbing stairs.
Like Bowers, Thomas had to wear an orthopedic boot for nearly two months.
"I couldn't do anything but upper body stuff," Thomas said. "But once I got it off, I still had to take time, because it's a serious injury, and you don't want to come back too fast."
In six months, the 49ers will close out the first half of their regular season with an Oct. 27 game in London against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After a bye week, the 49ers return to action Nov. 10 at home against the Carolina Panthers.
"Well, it's a setback," Harbaugh said. "But Michael's young. He's strong. With everything he'll be positive approach to healing and we'll anticipate great things."