Sunday was a big day for the San Francisco 49ers.
The defense contained, frustrated, and even downright stopped one of the NFL's best offenses from a year ago.
The offense shook off three-plus quarters of third-and-longs and three-and-outs to put together a 15-play, 80-yard drive when it mattered most.
And these 49ers showed they don't need a bull-headed, self-obsessed, 22-year-old wideout to beat a tough opponent on the road.
Monday, Sept. 14, marks Crabtree's 22nd birthday, but it's the rest of the 49ers who have a coming of age, of sorts, to celebrate. The team's 20-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals shows that for the first time in a very long time, this is a San Francisco team worth cheering.
Amid new reports that Crabtree intends to sit out the 2009 season and re-enter the draft in 2010, the 49ers beat the reigning NFC champs on their home turf, and they did it as a team.
From coach Mike Singletary's on-the-field huddle to fire up his defense, to Shaun Hill's composure during the team's crucial go-ahead drive, to Justin Smith slamming Kurt Warner to the turf on the game's final snap, this team wanted it.
Sure, the game wasn't perfect (repeated two-yard runs up the gut aren't going to cut it next week against Seattle), and yes, the team could have used a freakishly talented 22-year-old receiver running fly routes and end-arounds, instead of 36-year-old Isaac Bruce.
But right now, Michael Crabtree is all about Michael Crabtree, and that mentality just doesn't fit with the 49er team that pulled out the win on Sunday.
If this group of players is going to keep moving forward as team, the last thing they need is a diva who wants recognition as a top wideout before even playing in an NFL game.
So keep sitting, Crabtree. Celebrate your birthday without an NFL paycheck, and listen to your agent reassert the same threats that only further alienate the 49ers franchise and fanbase.
Watch your value dip lower and lower, and be prepared to take less money from a different team next year.
Or, you can recognize that on Sunday, a bunch of guys in red and gold realized they can get something special accomplished if they act as a team. You can sign, get up to speed, and prove that this 49er team is better with you in the lineup.
Now that would be a birthday to remember.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!