49ers’ Crabtree Prepares for Possible Debut

Santa Clara, Calif. — Just as the passing game has started to click for the San Francisco 49ers at last, here comes Michael Crabtree.

The team’s top wide receiver from 2012 is back on the active roster six months after Achilles tendon surgery and poised to make his season debut Sunday against St. Louis if all goes as hoped during practice this week.

Adding Crabtree to the mix would provide a big boost to a receiving corps that made significant strides in a 27-6 win at Washington on Monday night. Crabtree became Colin Kaepernick’s top target last year and had career bests of 85 receptions for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns.

Mario Manningham continues to impress opposite Anquan Boldin, and Manningham hopes his unit can build off a strong performance and develop some consistency.

Jets’ Reed Wants ‘Fireman Ed’ Back

Florham Park, n.j. — Ed Reed was looking forward to his first home game with the New York Jets, expecting to see Fireman Ed leading the MetLife Stadium crowd in loud “J-E-T-S!” chants against the Miami Dolphins.

“That guy with the hard hat on, is he still here?” the safety said Wednesday. “I need him getting the whole stadium crunked.”

Well, one problem: The firefighter helmet-wearing fan named Ed Anzalone stepped away from his role as a famous cheerleader after increasing “confrontations” between him and other fans.

Anzalone’s last game as Fireman Ed came a year ago, the Jets’ 49-19 Thanksgiving loss to New England, which included Mark Sanchez’s now infamous “Butt Fumble.”

“He retired? I can’t believe it,” a smiling Reed said. “We need to bring him out of retirement.”


Twins Add Pitcher

Minneapolis — Free-agent right-hander Ricky Nolasco and the Minnesota Twins reached agreement on a contract, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press.

The Twins and Nolasco agreed to the deal Wednesday. The person requested anonymity because the team does not plan to announce a deal until Nolasco passes a physical.

The deal helps the Twins address what has been the worst starting pitching staff in the majors over the last two seasons. Nolasco went 8-3 with a 3.52 ERA in 16 starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.

The 30-year-old was acquired from the Marlins in a midseason trade and was considered one of the top free-agent pitchers on the market.

Nolasco’s Twitter account already has a Twins logo as its avatar.


6 Arrested In Match-Fixing Probe

London — British police investigating soccer match-fixing have arrested six men in a probe of a suspected international betting syndicate.

The arrests, announced Wednesday, follow an investigation by the Daily Telegraph newspaper, which reported that at least three of the men held this week are soccer players.

The Telegraph made a covertly recorded video in which it alleges a fixer said lower league matches in England could be fixed for $81,380.

“Six men have been arrested across the country as part of an NCA investigation into alleged football match fixing,” Britain’s National Crime Agency said in a statement.

“The focus of the operation is a suspected international illegal betting syndicate.”

The NCA said during the “active investigation” it is working with the Gambling Commission and the English Football Association.

At meetings in Manchester this month, the Telegraph said one of the alleged fixers — a Singaporean man — correctly predicted how many goals would be scored during a match the next day, and offered to manipulate two British matches.

The man told the paper’s investigator in a video that he would say to a player: “You tell me how many goals you can give.”

“Either 3-2, 4-1 or zero,” he added in broken English. “I say I don’t need five. For me four is enough ... if more than that up to you. But my deal is four ... I don’t want less than four.”

The alleged fixer is heard claiming he has a betting website, stressing: “We can bet (on) those goals.”