The San Francisco 49ers face major dilemmas on some of their core players as Colin Kaepernick, Aldon Smith, Mike Iupati and Michael Crabtree will all see their original rookie contracts expire after the 2014 season (Smith does have an option for 2015 should the team choose to exercise it). While all of these players have been key components to San Francisco's success the past three years, it's unlikely they will be able to keep every one of them in the fold due to salary cap restrictions. Each possible contract extension will present it's own pros and cons and the 49ers will have to weigh them against what is best for the team. As they do this, they may find that no situation presents more of a dilemma than that of Crabtree.

Given his history, one could assume that Crabtree will want top dollar in his next deal. The question is, has he earned it? Through five seasons in the NFL, Crabtree has played in 16 games twice (2010, 2012) and only broken the 1,000 yard mark once (2012). He has scored more than four touchdowns in a season on just two occasions. Even if you take injuries (and holdouts) out of the picture and look at his average production over 16 games, he comes in below the bar for a dominant receiver. Through his career, Crabtree averages 70 receptions, 921 yards and five touchdowns over a 16 game slate. He has also never been selected to the Pro Bowl or an All Pro team.

Those in Crabtree's camp can make arguments for his value to the 49ers despite of his numbers. For starters, the 49ers had issues at quarterback during his first two seasons as Alex Smith was still struggling and replaced for part of the 2010 season. Even when Smith started to play well in 2011, he still wasn't the type of quarterback who was going to throw for big yardage. Smith threw for 3144 yards in 2011 which was the fewest for any quarterback who started all 16 games that year. Even during Smith's Pro Bowl season of 2013 in which he averaged 220 yards passing a game with Kansas City, his top wide receiver (Dwayne Bowe) only managed 673 yards. Taking that into account, it's possible Crabtree's lack of production was more quarterback/system driven than performance driven.

To support this theory, you only have to look at Crabtree's numbers once Kaepernick took over in 2012. In the last five regular season games that season, Crabtree caught 35 of the new quarterback's passes for 538 yards and four touchdowns. He went on to catch another 20 in the playoffs for 285 yards and three scores. If you take that production over a 16 game season, the receiver would have had 110 receptions, 1646 yards and 14 touchdowns.

One could also lobby in Crabtree's defense by stating that he is more clutch than his numbers would indicate. In 2012, he caught 32 passes on third down and 24 of them were converted to firsts. Only four players saw more than his 49 targets on third and fourth down and his five third down scores were tied for most in the league. A reason for his success in this department is what Crabtree can do after the catch. His 543 yards after making the reception was the fourth highest in the NFL and accounted for 49.1 percent of his receiving yards.

What will also work for Crabtree is the fact that the 49ers have no one else to replace him. Even if Anquan Boldin resigns, it will be for the short term and he doesn't have many years left given his age (33). The only other viable option currently on the 49ers' roster is Quinton Patton and he is, at best, unproven. Barring a rookie coming in and making a big impact, the 49ers would either need to retain Crabtree or make a push for a receiver outside of the organization either through free agency or via a trade.

Whether you are in his camp or think it would be best for he and the 49ers to part ways, there is no denying that 2014 is a huge year for Crabtree and his overall evaluation. All the momentum from his 2012 breakout was washed away by the Achilles' injury that cost him most of 2013, and the receiver was not 100 percent upon returning late in the year. This upcoming season should answer the question of whether or not he is worth a large contract, but salary cap restraints may be what dictates if the 49ers are the team who gives it to him.

It's quite the dilemma.