SANTA CLARA – Wide receiver Michael Crabtree, out since July 30 with a hamstring strain, returned to full practice on Friday during the 49ers’ open practice at Levi’s Stadium.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick targeted Crabtree with two passes during the team’s opening 11-on-11 work but both throws fell incomplete. Kaepernick and Crabtree later hooked up on a short touchdown pass against Kenneth Acker at the left front pylon.
Crabtree got off to a hot start in training camp as he looked completely healthy and faster than ever after missing the first 11 games last season while he rehabbed from a torn Achilles tendon.
He said he was near 230 pounds last year when he returned as he gained weight because he was limited in his workouts after six months of rehab. Now, he’s at 215 pounds and feeling fresh and ready to establish himself as a top NFL receiver as he enters his contract year.
“Whatever coach needed from me,” said Crabtree, who still managed to catch 34 passes for 487 yards in eight games, including the playoffs. “They said guys were struggling, so whatever I could bring to the table. Last year I wasn’t 100 percent. A lot of guys forget about that.
“I was fast enough to be on the field, but I wasn’t me.”
Crabtree said he is motivated by the way the 49ers’ season ended a year ago. For the second consecutive time, the 49ers’ season ended with Kaepernick and Crabtree failing to hook up in the end zone.
“I feel like we should win,” Crabtree said. “We should win all those big games. This year is a test. How are we going to do? How are we going to come back? Are we going to come back stronger?
“All I can do is do all I can do to get this receiver-quarterback connection the best it can be. I’m trying to go to the top. I’m trying to be one of the best out here.”
Crabtree sustained a hamstring strain during the team’s sixth practice of camp. He sat out the exhibition opener last week against the Baltimore Ravens. Crabtree took part in limited individual drills on Wednesday before he was cleared for a full day of work Friday.
It’s uncertain whether Crabtree will play Sunday at Levi’s Stadium when the 49ers face the Denver Broncos in the second exhibition game for both teams.
Here are some other notes, highlights and observation from practice on Friday:
--Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert had a rough beginning to practice, as he completed just two of his first seven attempts. Three of his incomplete passes sailed high over his intended targets. His final incomplete pass during that sequence prompted some loud groans from some in the stands.
--The practice consisted of a lot of scout-team work in which the non-starters are playing the upcoming opponents’ scheme and not going all-out.
--McLeod Bethel-Thompson, currently No. 4 on the depth chart, hooked up with David Reed on the offensive play of the day. Bethel-Thompson threw deep down the right sideline and Reed made the grab against the coverage of cornerback Perrish Cox.
Daily transactions: None.
Returned to practice: WR Michael Crabtree (hamstring), OT Jonathan Martin (bereavement), OG Adam Snyder (knee).
Did not practice: LB Patrick Willis (NA), CB Tramaine Brock (ankle), CB Chris Cook (NA), RT Anthony Davis (shoulder), DE Lawrence Okoye (ankle).
Physically unable to perform: LB NaVorro Bowman (knee), TE Garrett Celek (back), DL Kaleb Ramsey (NA).
Non-football injury: RB Marcus Lattimore (knee/hamstring), FB Trey Millard (knee), CB Keith Reaser (knee) and G Brandon Thomas (knee).
Reserve/did not report: RG Alex Boone (contract holdout).