After missing 71-days of the preseason and regular season last year receiver Michael Crabtreesigned with the 49ers and was inserted immediately into the starting lineup. The reason for him starting right away had more to do with his talent than his knowledge of the offensive playbook. He played well in 11 games with 48 receptions for 625 yards and two touchdowns. Coming into the off-season this year I was excited because the 49ers would have Crabtree for all of the workouts and at training camp from the start. In the preseason games quarterback Alex Smith would be able to develop the QB-WR relationship that is needed for a team to be winners and for the offense to be effective.
So far Crabtree has not played in three preseason games due to injuries. The first preseason game against the Colts Crabtree injured his neck earlier in the week but was cleared to play. He did not suit up for the game. The following week against the Vikings Crabtree was out again and the injury line read neck strain. The following week after the Vikings game Crabtree was on field at practice with the team and head coach Mike Singletarysaid the receiver would play in the game against the Raiders. It was reported that Crabtree showed up to the Oakland Coliseum and said he had a “sore neck” and did not play as a last minute scratch. I have been disappointed that Crabtree has not played in any preseason games mainly because he needs to translate what he and Smith have done in training camp into a game situation.
When Crabtree signed last season I made note of his diva mentality and filed it away in my mind knowing at some point another diva moment would come. Enter yesterday’s confrontation between Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. Davis took issue with Crabtree’s absence from the preseason games and the veteran treatment he was receiving. Davis confronted Crabtree during offense walk throughs in front of the rest of the team, coaches and media. Crabtree reportedly had words for Davis too and eventually Singletary had to take the two off the field for a talk in the locker room. Crabtree is known to have a good work ethic but he seems to think he can get treated differently from the rest of his teammates. Media access to Crabtree is limited as he has only done one interview which was the press conference on the first day of training camp. It has been reported that Crabtree is the only 49er who is not available to the media upon standard request.
Crabtree not playing seems to have been building since the start of the preseason. After the first preseason game Smith said “It’s very important…We’ve had a tough camp, but we’ve got to be out here. We’ve got to get the work in. If we just think we have these names or we’re going to show up on game day and get it done, that’s crazy. It’s totally crazy.” AKA get your ass on the field Crabtree. This is not Texas Tech and whatever special treatment you received there will not fly with Singletary, Davis or the rest of the team.
As team captain it was Davis’ duty to confront Crabtree about his perceived special treatment he receives which is usually for veteran players not for someone who has played half a season. Singletary said Davis did the right thing but in the wrong way. Singletary was probably referring to the fact that Davis did it publically and with profanity. I say Davis was 100% correct in how he handled the situation. Doing it in public rather than behind closed doors sends a huge message to Crabtree that no matter what treatment he thinks he should receive, he is still a rookie. Let’s hope Crabtree recognized he does not deserve the same treatment as Frank Gore in getting to sit out preseason games. In Crabtree’s mind the preseason games are meaningless. For the rest of the team they are important.