|Paul Sakuma / US Presswire|
|Michael Crabtree used to be all smiles about Alex Smith as his quarterback. Not so much anymore, apparently.|
Crabtree, a high first-round pick, hasn't done anything yet to distinguish himself or come close to performing to the level of his draft selection. The same is regularly said of Smith, a former first overall pick. They both play for a franchise still desperate to return to its past glory.
And this offseason drama is supposed to matter?
Crabtree began his career with a prolonged rookie contract impasse, missing much of his first year in the league while seeking a deal that would pay him as the best receiver in his draft. Quite frankly, he needs to start earning it. Crabtree needs to show that the questions that dogged him heading into the draft about attitude and consistency and maturity won't end up undermining his NFL career. He needs to be fully invested in this offense like Vernon Davis and become a playmaker.
He needs to live up to the hype.
I don't care if Crabtree gets tossed into a locker room with the same kind of struggling quarterbacks who have so symbolized the plight of the 49ers in recent years. He needs to make it work. He isn't in a position to dictate who throws him the ball and how many times. He hasn't earned it yet.
Smith needs to only worry about Smith. He should feel forever indebted to this lockout for creating a circumstance in which he is likely to remain a starting quarterback anywhere in the NFL, much less getting to do so with teammates he already knows, in the league's worst division, for a coach (Jim Harbaugh) who has gone out of his way to keep him on board in San Francisco.
This is Smith's shot (his last?) to turn his career around. I don't care if he ends up in a scenario in which he's in a huddle with Crabtree, T.O., Randy Moss, Chad Ochocinco, or any other diva receiva you can come up with. Smith needs to find a way to make it work, suck it up and make the best of it.
We haven't heard from Smith, but neither he nor Crabtree has an excuse to complain. Make it work.
The 49ers are already one of the teams likely to be wounded most by the lockout, given a new coaching staff, an unsettled QB situation and the labor situation dragging through another month. They can't afford any drama, especially coming from a player who was drafted to be a cornerstone but has yet to come close to fulfilling those expectations.
Follow Jason La Canfora on Twitter @JasonLaCanfora