Michael Crabtree may be the only rookie wide receiver to be labeled a “diva” before even stepping onto the field. Not only that, but he has become a joke due to the fact that he is fighting an up-hill battle for a better contract when he hasn’t proved anything in the NFL. Crabtree makes Brandon Marshall sound reasonable. This contract situation that Crabtree has started seems to be a little out of control. So what should the 49ers do? Let’s take a look at five reasons why the 49ers should just end contract talks with him permanently and move on.
Can’t Win with Him…Can’t Do It: By now, many people are aware of the famous Coach Mike Singletary rant after telling Vernon Davis to leave the field last season. This alone showed everyone what type of coach he is and what will and will not be tolerated on his team. Does anyone think that Coach Singletary will change now because they drafted, arguably, the best wide receiver in last year’s draft? That’s highly unlikely. Before Michael Crabtree even stepped onto the field in a real game he has shown how selfish, immature, and how much of a distraction he can be to the team. All this is surprising considering the comments made about him before the draft.
Before and during the draft people raved about his work ethic. He seemed to be the type of guy ready for the spotlight and the pressure that he was going to face being the guy who many was looking at to be the next Jerry Rice. Now people have other opinions about him. His offseason behavior has left fans with a disappointed and disgusted feeling about him and even some of his teammates share this same feeling. Vernon Davis was quoted last August with saying “He needs to get his butt here and help this team out. He has a chance to be a big-time player. He should take what he can get and get here.” It’s been one month since then and with the start of the regular season a week away, it seems that Crabtree is looking to only do what’s best for himself, not what’s best for the team. That doesn’t sound like a Coach Singletary type of player.
Now if you add his off-the-field behavior to the positive comments about his on the field work ethic he sounds a lot like Terrell Owens, during his Philadelphia Eagles days. However, the difference between TO and Crabtree is that it took TO a couple years on the field exhibit this behavior. Crabtree hasn’t even played a down yet and already becoming one of the biggest wide receiver divas in the NFL. So when taking all of this into account, there is no reason why Coach Singletary and the 49ers should back down and give in to Crabtree’s demands. One rookie receiver is not going help or improves the chances for the 49ers to win games. Especially since he has not played in any preseason games to even be ready to provide a huge contribution to the team. Crabtree’s off-the-field attitude simply is something that Coach Singletary wants in a player on his team and he has said that before. Crabtree’s absence from the field won’t impact the 49ers play on the field and the team can definitely win and be competitive without him.
Bigger Problems Lie Elsewhere: The saying that there is “bigger fish to fry” perfectly explains how the front office should approach this Crabtree incident. The 49ers allowed the most sacks last season with 55. It doesn’t matter how many Crabtree caliber receivers they have on the field. None of them will get the ball when the quarter back is lying on his back for majority of the games that they play. Surprisingly, this need was ignored in the draft and in the offseason. The 49ers didn’t draft an offensive lineman at all nor did they sign one in Free Agency. They one that they did sign from the Steelers (Marvel Smith) retired at the end of August. They will definitely be in trouble this season as 12 of the games that they play will be against tough defenses. Seven of those teams were in near the top of the league in sacks last season. Until they address this problem then they will have a hard time getting the ball to Crabtree, when he decides to end his holdout of course.
Another issue that they needed to address was their pass defense since they were near the bottom in the league in passing yards allowed. They were 16th in the league in sacks with 30. With the 49ers being in a division where they have to play two of the best offenses in the NFL twice this season (Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals) there seems to be no time to worry if Crabtree will be ready for the season. Crabtree is not the next Deion Sanders and therefore won’t be able to help on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. These needs must get addressed soon if they hope to be competitive in their division and in the NFL period. This leads into the next reason why the 49ers don’t need to worry about Michael Crabtree…
Year of “Transition”: No one is really expecting the 49ers to win this division anyways. Having Crabtree on the field won’t get this team into the playoffs with the team that they currently have on the field. So it’s really not in their best interest to continue to have contract talks with him. The 49ers are currently in their rebuilding years and will take at least 2 or 3 more years for them to get back to the level where they are competing for the division championship and for a playoff spot.
The 49ers have a tough schedule ahead of them this year. It is very possible for them to go 6-10 considering the fact that they will be playing at least 10 teams who all have great chances to compete for a playoff spot this season. If that happens then the only good thing that will come out of this season is a high draft choice which is not that bad. The 49ers still have some positions that they need to address in the next couple of years either through the draft or free agency and if they get a high draft choice then next year’s draft will be the best place to start.
The Grass Is Greener on the Other Side of the Fence: Michael Crabtree wants to sit out the whole season and re-enter the draft? That’s fine. He will do more harm to himself than he will do to the 49ers if he goes that route. Not only will he not get paid the money he is looking for but many scouts think that he will go either in the second or third round due to his off-the-field attitude. Besides that may not necessarily be a bad thing for the 49ers. If the 49ers do poorly this year and get a top ten draft choice then they will be able find either a franchise QB or a No.1 wide receiver.
Issac Bruce will be a free agent next year and will likely retire. So next year will be the year that they really need a number one wide receiver. Why not draft Dez Bryant? If he comes out in next year’s draft he will be the best wide receiver on the board and a definite top ten draft pick. If he doesn’t come out then they are other receivers that they could draft like LSU’s Brandon LaFell or Cincinnati’s Mardy Ginyard. There will also be at least three franchise quarterbacks who will be available like Texas’ Tim Tebow, Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, and Ole Miss’ Jevan Snead and Florida’s Tim Tebow could put his name in that category as well soon.
The 49ers have two first round picks and will be able to use them to get players that can help them at the QB and WR position. So if Crabtree wants to sit out the whole season and re-enter the draft then he will be only hurting himself. The 49ers will look good in either situation.
Everybody Plays the Fool: One thing that people can agree on is that Michael Crabtree is making himself look ridiculous with this holdout that he is on. What would be more ridiculous is for the 49ers to give in and pay him the money he is looking for. If Crabtree must think this is Madden or something. If people got paid according to what ESPN’s mock draft or how Madden rated him then Crabtree would be completely reasonable with his request to be paid top 5 salary. However this is not the case. Crabtree was the 10th pick and should be paid accordingly. His agent and his cousin is making him look like a fool for turning down $20 million in order to sit out for something that will never happen.
There is no reason that the 49ers should pay because Crabtree wasn’t taken higher by any of the other teams in the draft. So it’s not in the 49ers best interest to pay him anything until he lowers the amount of money that he is requesting. This situation is not like the Broncos situation with Brandon Marshall so the team doesn’t have to worry about facing any backlash for the stance that they are taking. Nor is this situation like the Washington Nationals one with Stephen Strasburg in which the team got hammered daily by the media by not signing Strasburg sooner. Their fans remain loyal to the team and the media all seem to point the blame at Crabtree, his agent, and his cousin. So the 49ers are certainly doing the right thing by just waiting it out until Crabtree gets some sense and signs for what he is supposed to get paid as the 10th pick in the draft.
49ers fans have nothing to worry about since many think that this issue will soon be over. Crabtree will likely sign sometime this month which would be the smartest thing he has done so far. However, if he does decide to sit out the whole year 49er fans still shouldn’t worry because everything will be fine in San Francisco. Coach Singletary summed it up best earlier this month by saying “As far as Crabtree is concerned, I said it all along; he has to do what he has to do. We’re not sitting here contemplating, waiting or anything. We’re not blinking. We’re not flinching. We are just doing what we have to do. We will let that take care of itself.”