In drafting Michael Crabtree, the 49ers have suddenly and surprisingly added a 21-year-old who’ll walk into camp as the best receiver on the team in terms of footwork (especially around the sideline), instincts and hands. And they have Al “I’m not going anywhere” Davis to thank. Everybody knows how ridiculous the Heyward-Bey pick was, but you should still check out what WalterFootball.com had to say about Darrius Heyward-Bey:
2/23/09: Darrius Heyward-Bey is a great player. Well, at least in Al Davis’ eyes. DHB won’t make it past Oakland in Round 2, thanks to a 4.30 40.
Not only is Heyward-Bey an unproven receiver with an awkward-sounding name (and a nickname that sounds like something Sebastian Janikowski used to enjoy when he came to the Raiders), he wasn’t even thought of as a first-rounder until word spread like wildfire this past week that Davis was in love with him due to that magical 40.
Even though the national story regarding the draft has been that the 49ers somehow got Crabtree at No. 10 (even ahead of the Jets trading up to get Mark Sanchez, which tells you something), there are still bound to be those who wonder if the whole thing’s too good to be true. And you can’t blame them, because the Bay Area has been under a cloud of sports suckitude for so long we’re all conditioned to wait for the other shoe to drop, foot to break, shoulder to tear and transaction to fail.
Tonight, however, is a time to rejoice. Crabtree isn’t a freakish athlete hindered by a mediocre Terrapin offense like DHB (or Vernon Davis, for that matter), he’s already pretty much a finished product. Let’s attack the doubts, one by one:
“He played on a team that had an offense designed to help him, in a conference that played no defense.”
Anybody who says this didn’t watch Crabtree play. He was the best player on the field in every game he played in college, and while the Big 12 had some high scoring games and huge passing numbers, it’s not like they were the 1990’s Pac-10; this was a conference with six bowl teams. The only real knock on Crabtree is he never had to run deep routes in college, but it’s not like running deep is rocket science. I’m not a wide receiver or anything, but it seems like receivers actually enjoy catching long passes, so I think the rookie will have no problem practicing deep routes again and again and again…
“But what about the stress fracture in his foot? He didn’t even have a 40 time!”
When did Crabtree become Greg Oden? I know that the word “fracture” makes it sound like he should be walking around in an aircast, but stress fractures are usually nothing to worry about for normal-sized people with normal bone density. Middle-aged women are coming back from stress fractures and running marathons all the time — don’t you think a 21-year-old who’s 6’2″ and 215 lbs. and set to enjoy the best medical care available can recover fully before Training Camp? Crabtree may need to drink a glass or two of milk per day; maybe his agent can work in some free Oreos or Chips Ahoy into his contract. Mmmm, Chips Ahoy. I can eat a full bag of those things in a sitting with a glass of milk in front of me. That’s right, cookies and milk. It’s why I’ve never had any stress fractures, although I think the combo might be hindering my 40 time.
“I heard Crabtree’s a diva!”
Of course he is, he’s an elite wide receiver. Even Jerry Rice complained at least once per year in the press about not getting enough looks. The only great wide receiver over the past 15 years to have no diva tendencies was Marvin Harrison, though Harrison definitely has his demons. Uh oh, Crabtree enjoys fashion and is close with Deion Sanders! Oh no, who could imagine?!?! A cocky wide receiver with a taste for opulence, whatever will we do? He might dance in the end zone on every one of his 15 touchdowns per season! Oh, the fines, the fines.
Remember, Terrell Owens came into the league as a scared kid who was the furthest thing from brash, that is until he got his first paycheck and turned into the most narcissistic athlete in professional sports besides A-Rod. As long as Crabtree doesn’t wear sweatpants to the club and shoot himself in the leg, I don’t care if he wears mink underwear. Just kidding, PETA!