The San Francisco 49ers top receiving threat Michael Crabtree may not be able to walk, but that should not stop the Niners from signing him to a long term contact right now. Crabtree, of course, tore his Achilles Tendon and will miss most of the season recovering from the injury.
When Crabtree’s rookie contract expires he will be a very hard player for the 49ers to lock up. Crabtree had a tumultuous start to his career with the 49ers where he held out on signing his rookie contract, injuries held him out of preseason games and he had numerous controversies with former starting quarterback Alex Smith. Signing him to a long-term contract could be difficult, but giving him a contract a year before his contract expires would help alleviate the negotiations with the team.
With Crabtree’s injury and uncertain future it puts the 49ers in a tough situation. They could sign him at a slightly discounted rate since he is still under his rookie contract, but guaranteeing a lot of money to a player that may never return to his peak form like in 2012 could be hard to justify. Signing Crabtree to a long-term deal that has injury clauses to protect the franchise would be the smartest thing for the organization to do.
With players like Mike Iupati, Aldon Smith, Tarell Brown and of course Colin Kaepernick’s contracts expiring in the next year or two, the 49ers would be very prudent to sign Crabtree to a long-term contract especially now that they could sign him at a somewhat discounted rate due to his injury.
Crabtree is Kaepernick’s favorite target on offense. His 2012 season stats clearly exemplify his favoritism towards Crabtree, where he had career-highs in receptions (85), receiving yards (1,105) and touchdowns (9). He is the 49ers #1 receiver on a team that has struggled to find a #2 and #3 receiver. A full offseason with Kaepernick entrenched as the starter will only help bolster Crabtree’s stats.
The 49ers are set up for success with a young nucleus and a handful of Hall-of-Fame potential players on their roster that are just hitting their prime. They will not be able to sign everybody, but Trent Baalke and the 49ers front office have made decisions to make this team a perennial playoff team and potentially a Super Bowl winning team.
It is time to pay that man, Michael Crabtree.