The San Francisco 49ers were blessed with one of the easiest, no-brainer draft decisions when Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree fell in their laps at the 10th slot. Problem is, in Crabtree’s mind, it didn’t happen that way. He was the highest rated WR in the draft, so he should be paid like one. If you haven’t heard the story, here’s Niners Nation’s in-depth account.
Michael Crabtree is continuing the much-maligned tradition of rookies holding out in training camp in attempt to earn more money despite the fact that they have never taken an NFL snap. I often wonder how fans ever forgive these players after pulling such shenanigans. The Oakland Raiders had to deal with this recently with Jamarcus Russell, and now, the nightmare has shifted across the Bay to Santa Clara / San Francisco where what the Niners once thought was a gift, has now turned into a disaster. While I’d like to root for the 49ers to hold a firm position, they don’t have much leverage here. Gaining much publicity this year in Niners camp is Alex Smith’s attempt to reclaim the starting spot that he should’ve been holding down for the last two full seasons. The concequence is a constant reminder of the franchise’s shortcomings in the draft which they held the #1 overall pick. It wasn’t considered by anyone to be a deep draft, but with #24 pick Aaron Rodgers succeeding Brett Favre in Green Bay, the scarlet and gold are publicly relegated to the short end of the stick. So, with the Alex Smith debacle playing in the background, the Michael Crabtree situation makes things that much more urgent. No one expects him to be a superstar, but at the same time, he’s as close to a sure-fire WR prospect as we’ve seen in the last few years. Adding to the burden is the lack of the depth at the wideout spot. Sure, there are a handful of capable receivers on the roster, but Brandon Jones, Isaac Bruce, and Josh Morgan doesn’t exactly have playoff receiving corps written on it. Crabtree, unfortunately, is needed.
I will give that the 49ers fan base is a faithful one. The franchise has been driven into the ground over the course of the last decade by the York family, but the fan support has been unwavering. SF fans are dying to clutch on to a franchise player and cheer on his every move. The problem is, they can’t find anyone to fill that role. Alex Smith has blown his chances, Vernon Davis was practically handed the badge of fan-favorite, but has failed repeatedly to win over the faithful. Frank Gore and Patrick Willis have helped carry the torch, but for a fan base who has grown up with Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens, who didn’t start to wear on nerves until he had actually earned his stripes, Crabtree is in a unique position to be the man for years to come with one of the most storied NFL franchises. However, because the franchise is what it is, I don’t believe they should bend for Crabtree. Let him walk. This move on his part only is a preview of what is to come throughout his career. Though it may be a PR nightmare for the time being, time will ultimately prove it to be the right decision. Let’s face it, Crabtree isn’t worthy of lining up on the same hash mark as the great Jerry Rice. He belongs somewhere like Kansas City or Minnesota anyway.
Anybody know the logistics of whether SF could work out a Crabtree for Boldin swap with the Cardinals?