A.J. Jenkins knows the meaning of a bad day at the office—the office being an NFL practice field.
At a rookie minicamp back in May, the San Francisco 49ers’ first-round pick arrived in less than peak physical conditioning.
He wasn’t afraid to admit it, either.
“Oh yeah, oh yeah,” said Jenkins (via Mercury News) with a distinct tone of humility after his first practice at the professional level. “I’ve got to get in shape.”
But that’s expected out of most rookies. The regimen of NFL practices—especially of the Jim Harbaugh varietal—are at a level beyond those of even the most intense college programs.
For the purposes of this article, however, let’s move away from those rookies and focus on the veterans, or the veteran who’s struggling the most thus far at the Santa Clara practice facility.
This isn’t to say I’m putting one of our beloved 49ers on blast. Rather, it’s recognizing the importance of attendance at training camp, and the ramifications when one fails to make it.
Shall we take a gander on said player?
After a rather long three years, the former first-round selection would finally experience a training camp.
Contract holdouts, injuries, undisclosed reasons, etc—this would finally be the year for Crabtree to generate fluidity with his offensive compatriots from the get go.
Then it happened.
Crabs goes down with an lower calf injury—at the very first practice.
Crabtree missed the next seven practices and once again lost out on a chance to solidify a connection with quarterback Alex Smith.
And they had been doing so well beforehand.
Even when he returned to the field, he merely performed individual drills and more rehab exercises.
The 49ers faithful certainly want a healthy Crabtree come September 9 in a certain small town in Wisconsin. They would appreciate it more, though, if those one-on-one exercises in training camp exercises aligned more with team-friendly work.
What’s worse, Crabtree found it within himself to feed the media with some relative malarkey during a Q&A last Tuesday.
When asked about his status—mind you, this is the first instance Mike has offered any words to the media since last season—he chimed in with this curious statement (courtesy csnbayarea.com)
"I don’t know too much about injuries.”
He followed that up with this gem.
“It wasn’t my first full offseason, if you really want to know.”
No, really Crabs, we would love to know because the last three years must have been an illusion.
Okay, sarcastic remarks aside, I really would have preferred something a little less disingenuous from the 49ers leading receiver of 2011. To be sure, Crabtree was using a little sarcasm himself in his initial statement. The Sacramento Bee’s Matt Barrows said himself that he wasn’t overly “combative,” and was merely expressing frustration.
That said, a more mature response reflecting his should-be leadership status with the team would have been a bit more appropriate.
Crabtree hauled in 72 passes for 874 yards as Alex Smith’s No. 1 target in the regular season. The postseason, though, was an entirely different matter.
Even while catching a touchdown against the Saints in the divisional round, Crabs dropped numerous catchable balls and tallied just one reception in the NFC Championship Game.
49er fans can take solace in the fact that he started in the first preseason game on Friday.
Or can they?
Does this box score look eerily familiar…
1 REC, 3 YDS
NFL legitimacy in mind, Michael Crabtree is a fine receiver who will realize his draft status this year.
Alex Smith has a surplus of weapons on the outside, and with that comes a career year for Mr. Crabtree.
The former Red Raider on blast?
Not a chance.
I’d just recommend producing on the green-grass gridiron for the foreseeable future.