San Francisco 49ers  

 

Crabtree hurting himself more than 49ers by holding out

After Andre Smith came to terms with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, the immediate thought turned to San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree.

Crabtree's the lone unsigned draft pick from the 2009 class and hasn't shown much of anything since his final game at Texas Tech. Yet, there is "nothing to report," with his contract stare down with the 49ers, according to his agent, Eugene Parker, in a text message.

Even so, 49ers General Manager Scot McCloughan told the San Francisco Chronicle on Saturday that he expects a deal to get done, seemingly before the team's first regular season game on Sept. 13. Regardless of when Crabtree signs, does that change much his potential impact at this point? It could accelerate things but not to the point where his presence would make much of a difference for weeks, at the earliest -- unless he is more special than we already think.

Had Crabtree been recovered from his foot surgery and been in camp on time, the 49ers still didn't count on him being the piece to make them immediate playoff contenders. San Francisco, still in a rebuilding phase, was banking on the running game and defense to push it closer to the postseason -- and unsuspecting rookie running back Glenn Coffee has done his part to foster optimism.

No team, not even the Raiders, with Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Vikings with Percy Harvin, the Giants (Hakeem Nicks) or the Titans (Kenny Britt), was pinning their season on their first-round receivers. Rookie wideouts rarely make that much of an impact. Randy Moss did with the Vikings in 1998, but Crabtree isn't Moss -- at least not from what we have/haven't seen.

This just in: Crabtree also doesn't have Brett Favre, Eli Manning, Kerry Collins, or even JaMarcus Russell throwing the ball to him like the other rookies do, either.

Crabtree has not signed a deal yet because he wants to be paid like the top drafted receiver, Heyward-Bey, who was taken seventh and got a five-year, $38.2 million deal from the Raiders. I'm sure Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher (five-years, $13.8 million) would like to get paid like Smith (four-years, $26 million with a maximum deal of six-years, $50 million). It's a pretty safe bet Cardinals running back Beanie Wells (five-years, $11.8 million) wanted to get paid like Broncos counterpart Knowshon Moreno (five-years, $23 million).

Like Crabtree, Oher (23) and Wells (31) weren't supposed to slip as far as they did in the draft. But they did. Somebody else at their positions got drafted ahead of them. Nothing they could do about that. They eventually got to camp and they're making their teams better, which, in turn is making them better.

Signing status of top picks
With Andre Smith and the Bengals getting a deal done, Michael Crabtree is the only first-round draft pick still holding out. See all the rookies' contract terms. More ...

If Crabtree weren't being offered a fair deal -- and to my knowledge, he hasn't been offered a deal completely off the scale for the tenth pick, which is somewhere between the salaries of No. 9 pick B.J. Raji (five years, $28.5 million) and No. 11 pick Aaron Maybin (five-years, $25 million) -- nobody would be asking the questions about him not being in camp. In fact, not that many people are, or won't be after the next day or so.

The NFL has kept on keeping on without Crabtree.

There was talk out of his camp a few weeks ago that he could sit the season out and re-enter the 2010 draft, but that would be a grave mistake. Not only because he would be out of football for a year and miss out on the chance to at least learn something about the game -- and earn a nice salary -- there will be other collegians selected ahead of Crabtree in the 2010 draft and paid more than him.

What would he do then?

It doesn't seem like things are going to come to that. Crabtree could be signed in the near future and soon, all of this will be forgotten, especially if Crabtree confirms the belief that he was the best receiver in the draft. He needs to get on the field to do that, though.

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