Ubisoft’s “Hip Hop Dance Experience” video game features Michael Crabtree along with Von Miller and LeSean McCoy as celebrity endorsers, with Crabtree coming up with a game-inspired dance (dubbed “The Crabshake”) that he plans to do after every touchdown, with every score leading to a $1,000 donation to the Boys and Girls Club.
David Fucillo at Niners Nation couldn’t make the trip because he lives in Washington D.C. (slacker). So Fooch hooked me up with a chance for a rare one-on-one interview with Crabtree on Monday afternoon, at the Ubisoft offices a couple blocks away from AT&T Park.
Crabtree was a surprise guest to the dozen or so Boys and Girls Club kids who showed up to check out a demo and get free copies of the game (where you’re judged by motion-capture while dancing to songs like Too $hort’s “Blow the Whistle” and “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison). After Crabtree messed around with the kids and signed some autographs, I got to talk to him for five minutes about his own dance experience, MC Hammer, Randy Moss, and what it’s like to play with Colin Kaepernick.
Crabtree isn’t exactly someone who’s known for opening up with the media, but he was definitely in his element while talking with the kids. During our conversation he seemed as optimistic and upbeat about the team and his role than any time since the 49ers drafted him.
After watching this video and/or reading the transcript below, it doesn’t take an expert at reading in between lines to see that Crabtree is happy that Colin Kaepernick is the 49ers’ starting quarterback. 11 targets in each of the last two games probably doesn’t hurt.
(Side note: You can choose Michael Crabtree as the 49ers player you’d most like to invite to your 10-person Pizza Party/Giants DVD marathon. Anyone who comments can win a prize package worth hundreds of dollars. Seriously.)
BASG: Got to be tired, nine catches?
Crabtree: Nine catches…
Yeah, that’s cool man. Feel like I should’ve had more yards, but some of those were third downs and 2 and 3, had to do what I had to do. But it was a fun game.
We’re here for “Hip Hop Dance Experience” and the Boys and Girls Club. Do you consider yourself a good dancer?
I can do a little bit. I’m not just a dance machine or nothing, but I can dance a little bit.
You ever take lessons?
Never took lessons, I just used to do all the popular dances back in the day.
Got a favorite? Sprinkler or lawnmower?
MC Hammer was hot, man. Doing the Typewriter and all types of stuff. Running Man.
You’re friends with Hammer, right?
Do you ever hang out with him? Isn’t he local, like in Tracy?
I haven’t hung out with him, but that’s my dude. Every time I run across him I always give him a hard time.
Harbaugh said you have the best hands he’s ever seen. But how important is footwork — you’re talking about dancing — when it comes to being a wide receiver?
It’s very important. That’s what you do, you run routes. You run to get open, you juke to get open. So footwork plays a big part. I haven’t seen too many guys that play wide receiver that can’t dance. You gotta have some feet, man.
Who’s the best dancer on the team?
I don’t know. We got some characters, man. I can’t even tell you, it’s either Manningham or Boobie Dixon.
I can see that. Another one of your teammates, Randy Moss, what has he brought? Has he kind of helped you, talked to you about your game and what he sees in you, helped you out this year?
I learned a lot. That’s my dude, that’s my big brother. I learn something new every day. Whether it’s on the field or off the field. Blessed to have a guy like that around.
Is it preparation? When you see how he prepares week to week, has that sort of helped you this year?
That’s cool, but it’s much bigger than the preparation. Preparation is basically on you. How you prepare for a game. Obviously the business and the ability to do things on the field, see things on the field, that comes from experience. A guy like that, really helps.
How do you feel the offense is coming along since Kaepernick has stepped in? Do you feel like you guys are growing week to week?
The sky’s the limit for us, man. You never know what to expect. I just go to practice man, and try to gain as much chemistry as I can with the guy. And make plays on Sunday.
You talked about maybe wishing you had more yards, but it seems like half of your yards have been after the catch. You’re like at 343, sixth among wide receivers, it looks like you’re almost going for contact this year. Do you feel stronger this year than ever before?
I feel healthier. I’m feeling better. I don’t have any problems with me right now, thank God. I’m just trying to go out there and make a play.
11 targets this week, 11 targets the week before; is it just kind of like that’s what the defense is giving you guys right now, or are you and Kap kind of getting into a rhythm?
Really getting into a rhythm. Really just trying to make it happen. Two guys that’s really trying to make something happen and that’s really what you see.
What’s it like to catch a pass from him? Randy was shaking his hand out one time, you ever had to do that yourself?
Yeah, all the time in practice. Y’all got some heat, now. He can bring it, he can bring it, that ball. He’s got so many tools, and he’s so talented that the sky’s the limit.
When you have a mobile quarterback like that, what kind of adjustments to you have to make? Do you have to break off routes more often than maybe before?
Really you just play football. Backyard football. That’s really what football is about. Guys like Drew Brees, they really do that a lot, but people don’t really look at it like that. But they start scrambling, Aaron Rodgers, dudes like that, they really keep the play going for more than three to four seconds. That makes football that much fun.
Harbaugh, back to him saying you have the best hands he’s ever seen. Did you hear when he said that or did you hear about that later? How did that make you feel?
I don’t pay attention to it, man. It’s just somebody’s opinion. Everybody’s got something to say about it, but I just continue to try to make the most of every attempt, every catch I make. Just try to secure the ball, try to focus on my hands.
Is there anything that you want to work on from here to the end of the season individually?
Just getting better every week. Catching, running, running routes, just winning every time.
Here’s a video of Crabtree talking to the kids and teaching them how to “Crabshake.” The sound quality isn’t the best, but Crabtree talks about his days at the Boys and Girls Club (where he was “the king of ping pong”) and starts dancing at about 1:20 in: