San Francisco 49ers

Michael Crabtree in for a Tough Time in San Francisco

NEW YORK - APRIL 25:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses with with San Francisco 49ers #10 draft pick Michael Crabtree at Radio City Music Hall for the 2009 NFL Draft on April 25, 2009 in New York City  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Martin LongCorrespondent IJuly 20, 2009

When the San Francisco 49ers selected Michael Crabtree with the 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft, I hung my head in frustration.

It isn’t just the fact that the 49ers need to build a better defense around Patrick Willis if they want to become a true NFC West contender. It is the fact that the Niners don’t have a quarterback that could throw the ball to Crabtree consistently and help develop him into an NFL wide receiver.

I was really hoping that the Niners would pick Brian Orakpo and convert him into a DeMarcus Ware-type pass rushing weak side/strong side linebacker.

This move would have potentially helped secure a strong set of linebackers.

This was not to be, however, and the Niners selected Crabtree.

In my eyes, it was not the greatest move they could have made.  I believe Crabtree is a great talent and a future All-Pro receiver, but he doesn’t belong in San Francisco.

At the moment, Crabtree is like a brand new yacht. Sure, it’s flashy and it can sail the high seas, but without a Captain to sail this yacht, it will just sit in dry-dock, being eroded and broken down by the waves.

What I am trying to get at is that any team can have a great wide receiver, but if they do not have a quarterback that can get him the ball, then he will become almost worthless, i.e. Randy Moss in Oakland.

To compound problems, Crabtree is a rookie, and if his development is hampered, then he could have a real tough time later trying to catch up.

Crabtree played extremely well at Texas-Tech and was obviously a standout receiver, but are these numbers padded somewhat?

Does the fact that he played in such a pass heavy offense mean anything?

Maybe, but regardless of the numbers Crabtree is big enough at 6’2”, fast enough (4.38-40), and sure-handed enough to make it in the NFL.

If it doesn’t mean anything, then sure, he should be able to make a smooth transition into the NFL.

Wrong.

The whole offense is being re-done with the arrival of new offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye II.

This means there will be no other receiver that can really give him a tip here or there about how the offense is run, which could become a problem.

He does have Isaac Bruce to look up to, and Bruce will obviously be able to show him a thing or two about being an NFL wide receiver. Along with Brandon Jones, the receiving corps of San Francisco is looking very strong and Crabtree should be able to find his place, but maybe that place isn’t one where he becomes a star.

If the quarterback position can get settled and the ball can be consistently and accurately thrown, then there should be no problem for Crabtree to put up some big numbers.

That is a big "if" though, and the quarterback position might not be settled for the whole season, or even the season after that, which means Crabtree will be looked down upon as a product of environment and can only produce in the right offense.

I do not believe this is the case, and Crabtree might not step right into San Francisco and have success, but he will become a great receiver.

I have no doubt.

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