Michael Crabtree expressed frustration after the San Francisco 49ers loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship Game. His frustration was understandable, but his comments were both out of line and delusional:
All I do is run routes. When you don’t get that many opportunities, it’s hard to talk… Half the time you’re not going to be open. That’s why they call you a playmaker – just give you chances.
Clearly Crabtree views himself as a “playmaker” – a title which few others would bestow upon him at this point in his career.
But despite his somewhat disappointing career, there’s no denying that the fact that he is the 49ers No. 1 receiver. And they’ve treated him as such. In 2011, Crabtree was targeted 107 times, 24th most among receivers, and more than any of his teammates (even Vernon Davis, who was thrown at 92 times).
Not only is Crabtree the Niners top receiver, but he’s essentially their only weapon at the position. Nearly half the balls Alex Smith threw to his wide receivers were aimed at Crabtree – a higher percentage than all but four others in 2011.
The question now is: can Jim Harbaugh control Crabtree, or will he become a distraction?
The Niners already attempted to bring in some competition for Crabtree by signing Braylon Edwards last offseason, which failed to work out due to injuries and ineffective play. And they’re likely to either sign or draft a receiver this year as well.
Even if Crabtree remains their No. 1 receiver, he’s all but guaranteed to see a reduced role in 2012. How will his ego react to that?
These are questions which are certainly being discussed behind closed doors in San Francisco, which could lead the team to seriously consider a 1st-round receiver – and possibly could lead them to trade up to ensure they land someone capable of replacing Crabtree in the near future.