To many of the 2009 NFL Draft observers Michael Crabtree was seen as the top overall talent and a potential top three pick. Others saw him as a diva, which got by on talent in college that wouldn’t lead to stardom in the NFL. A foot injury along with those character concerns (and Al Davis being Al Davis) contributed to Crabtree’s slide to the 49ers at #10. Crabtree certainly didn’t go out of his way to silence the diva whispers when he held out through five games of the regular season (eventually needing the help of MC Hammer to sign his contract).
The controversy continued in Crabtree’s 2nd season when he and teammate Vernon Davis had words and had to be escorted off the field by Mike Singletary. At the time Crabtree had yet to set foot in training camp or play in a preseason game due to an injury he sustained in minicamp. The lack of practice with his teammates showed early in the 2010 season. Many of the teams early INTs were due to poor communication between QB Alex Smith and Crabtree. Seen as a great route runner coming out of college, Crabtree seemed to either run the wrong route or simply a poor one early last season. Crabtree had his moments last season but was unspectacular most games and was not the game changing WR the 49ers needed him to be.
Entering his third and most pivotal season yet Crabtree will have his best chance to succeed yet under new head coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh will install the West Coast offense an offense that seems perfect for a player like Crabtree. Like the quarterback position wide receiver is one of the hardest to adapt to and make an immediate impact in the NFL. In a draft that included star WRs Jeremy Maclin and Percy Harvin the 49ers need Crabtree to fulfill his potential in the 2011 season and become a star much like Vernon Davis did in 2009.