Crabtree, a former Texas Tech wide receiver who is the only NFL draftee yet to sign, is seeking money more comparable to that of higher picks, and he's still far apart with the 49ers in contract negotiations.
"It's just unfortunate," Rice said on the field at Candlestick Park before the 49ers' home opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. "And it doesn't look like they're getting anywhere close to coming to an agreement. This guy's way behind, way behind. I'm talking the speed of the game, everything. If they brought him in right now, I don't think he's going to be ready to play."
49ers president Jed York has said he recently tried to schedule a face-to-face meeting with Crabtree and his representative, Eugene Parker, but hadn't heard back.
Crabtree, who turned 22 on Monday, hasn't accepted the 49ers' offer of a five-year, $20 million contract with a reported $16 million guaranteed. Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, the No. 7 overall pick, signed a five-year contract that guarantees him at least $23.5 million. Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, taken eighth overall, signed a five-year, $25 million contract that includes $19 million guaranteed.
"I'm sure there might be a little animosity toward him if he comes in and gets handed that starting job," Rice said of Crabtree. "I'm sure a lot of guys are probably taking it real hard. This guy is the No. 1 draft choice and he's holding out and he can really help the team. And he's only thinking about, well, he went No. 10, but he thought he should have gone No. 5, and that's the type of money he's trying to get."
Over the past month, there have been multiple reports, including from Crabtree's cousin, that the receiver would re-enter the draft in 2010 and wait for the money he believes he deserves.
"I think the thing is right now he has maybe too many people in his ear," Rice said.
"Pretty much you lose everything with the team, the chemistry," Rice said of Crabtree missing workouts. "You need to be in training camp working out with those guys, sweating with those guys, putting those tough days in. This game is so fast, and it's such a fine-tuned game now that you just can't skip regular preseason, then come into (the) regular season and expect to play well."
Crabtree caught 97 passes for 1,165 yards and 19 touchdowns last year during his sophomore season at Texas Tech. He finished his two-year college career with 231 receptions for 3,127 yards and 41 TDs.
Rice himself once held out from the 49ers -- for 37 days in 1992 -- and has said it was one of the poorest choices he made. However, he insists he never would have considered missing time during the regular season.
"I don't know how long I held out, but it was not during regular season," Rice said. "There's no way I would have held out during regular season. I was like, 'Just get it done so I can get back in there with my team and try to win football games and make this team a better team.'"
The Associated Press contributed to this report.