Your Move, Michael

Aug 11, 2009 at 5:41 AM

We've been patient with you.

We weren't worried when we heard you might be a "diva." (Ask Vernon Davis how long divas last on Coach Singletary's watch.) We let it slide when we heard you were sort of aloof at the OTAs. (They're just OTAs, after all.) We even stayed cool when we heard you were holding out. (So was half the first round.)

But enough's enough. As Edward DeBartolo Sr. once said, "You can only kiss a guy's ass so far." And Michael Crabtree, we're done kissing yours.

Now that we've heard from this David Wells, you've officially crossed the line. I'm not sure why you've chosen this notoriously shady guy as your "adviser." All I know is, he's trying to squeeze every dime out of you, er, out of the 49ers I mean. (Does he have an actual job, by the way? And how much of your signing bonus is he gonna get? Never mind.)

Whatever you're paying for his "advice," Michael, it's way too much. Let's replay what he told ESPN and break it down. Remember, Michael, this is your "adviser," so we can only assume he speaks for you:

"We are prepared to do it [sit out the season and enter next year's draft, that is]. Michael just wants fair market value. They took him with the 10th pick and you have [#7 pick and fellow receiver] Darrius Heyward-Bey getting $38 million? This week is crucial. Michael was one of the best players in the draft and he just wants to be paid like one of the best players. This week is very crucial."

I can see why your agent promptly denounced this gibberish, but he can't unring the bell. Whoever this Wells is, he's not very bright. And the fact he's your "adviser" reflects terribly on you.

Let me show you what I mean. C'mon, this'll be fun.

GIBBERISH, PART ONE: "We are prepared to do it."

It took approximately 12 seconds for the blogosphere to explain why this would be the stupidest thing you could do. First, you'd turn down more than 15 million guaranteed dollars. Second, we'd control your rights until next year's draft, so you'd spend that year sitting around collecting dust. Third, and most excitingly, you'd likely get drafted just in time to face the NFL's first rookie salary-cap!

So let me get this straight. You'll give up a king's ransom, you'll sit on your ass for the next year, you'll get drafted again (and not nearly as high as #10, after the aforementioned ass-sitting), and you'll accept whatever lower salary the new system says you're required to get?

You're "prepared to do it," are you? Well then, you just go ahead and do it. That'll show us. That'll teach us a thing or two.

GIBBERISH, PART TWO: "Michael just wants fair market value. They took him with the 10th pick and you have Darrius Heyward-Bey getting $38 million?"

Okay, first things first. Darrius Heyward-Bey isn't getting $38 million. Yeah, his contract says $38 million ($38.25, actually). But in the wacky world of NFL contracts, that figure means squat; it might as well be "$38 gazillion." All that matters is what's guaranteed, and Heyward-Bey is guaranteed "only" $23.5 million. That's still a lot of change, but it's well short of $38 million. In other words, the market for NFL rookies might be absurdly high, but it's not nearly as high as it looks. You might want to let your "adviser" know.

But let's move on and talk about "fair market value." I get the feeling that Wells doesn't know what this means. There is a market for NFL rookies, and that market is called the draft. And that market does set the fair value of each player, and it does so as follows: the first player chosen has the highest value, the second player chosen has the second-highest value (stop me when you've got the pattern, Michael), the seventh player chosen has the seventh-highest value, and yes, the tenth player chosen has the tenth-highest value. Get it? The "fair market value" of the tenth player chosen is slightly less than that of the ninth, and slightly more than that of the eleventh. Or, if the ninth and eleventh picks haven't signed, as is presently the case, the tenth player chosen has a "fair market value" slightly more than that of the tenth player chosen last year. Last year's tenth pick got a guarantee of $13.8 million. If we assume the market's gone up 20 percent over last year (which is the raise that Heyward-Bey got), that takes your "fair market value" to $16.6 million.

That's it, Michael. That's your "fair market value." If that's all you want, come and get it. Unless, of course, you really want something else....

GIBBERISH, PART THREE: "Michael was one of the best players in the draft and he just wants to be paid like one of the best players."

Ah, there it is. You're not really interested in your "fair market value" at all, are you? What you want is actually the opposite, what lawyers might call your "intrinsic value": your real value, no matter what the market would pay. And who better to determine your real value than you? (After close consultation with your "adviser," of course.)

Your problem is that your premise—that you were "one of the best players in the draft"—is nothing but a wild, baseless guess. Heaven knows, I hope it's true. But if it's true, it'll be years before we know it.

Sure, you were the consensus best receiver in the draft, and some scouts said you were the best player period. Even our general manager said you were the best receiver, "hands down." But all of this is guessing, and utterly meaningless.

Trust us, we've been there. A while back, we picked another receiver with the tenth pick, and man, we just could've sworn he was the best in the draft. We called him "the total package." But all we knew was how he looked in college. When he got to the NFL, we were shocked to learn that he just couldn't run. And a can't-miss prospect turned into a slow, doddering bust.

Get this straight, Michael. You haven't proven a damn thing. You might be one of the best players in the draft, and you might be one of the absolute worst.

This is why what determines a rookie's value isn't how "good" he is; no one knows that. What determines his value, instead, is the draft. You take what your slot says you're worth, you play out your first contract, and then we'll know how good you are. If you're as good as you think, then trust me, you'll be paid like it. But that's then, not now.

GIBBERISH, PART FOUR: "This week is crucial. ... This week is very crucial."

Actually this one's true, but not for the reason your "adviser" thinks. It's not a crucial week for us. It's a crucial week for you.

I'm sure you're keeping track of what's going on in camp. It's all coming together. Singletary's spell shows no sign of waning. The players' belief in each other is growing. And maybe most significantly for you, the receivers are shining.

Understand this, Michael. We will not be held hostage by you, your greedy agent, or your half-baked "adviser." We think you'd be a major piece of our puzzle, but we're gonna build it, with or without you.

During our first minicamp, we were told you were so desperate to play, so frustrated by your injury, that you cried. You took a lot of flak for it, but we were impressed by that show of desire. Now is the time to prove it. Now is the time, to prove what you really want.

If you wanna play, we'll be happy to have you. If you don't, then just get out.

And please, take David Wells with you.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • zachameen
    Well, we 49ers fans are not realizing that Mr. Crabtree doesn't want to play for the 49ers; he has something else in his mind and soon enough we will know it. Probably he wants to play for a team like New England or a pass happy team, not a run happy team. Basically he is looking for a short cut to the Super Bowl. He doesn't show much intelligence so far and now his character is in question as a player and his ethics. I don't believe next year he will be landed as high as 10th, I am seeing him going around the 15-20th draft choice. I hope he will end up in the weakest team in any conference. His intentions are rogue and the 49ers should be compensated for this draft choice and should get its 10th spot back next year. :)
    Aug 23, 2009 at 7:12 PM
  • Juan Perez
    Hi .... I'm a peruvian fan of the 49ers .... sorry by my spell .... but this situation is very hard to believe .... why people are so greedy .... i love this game but don't understand this BS.
    Aug 21, 2009 at 10:46 AM
  • SchmidtN
    Michael Crabtree is your typical modern athlete. Selfish? Check. Arrogant? Check. He is trying to buck the entire system of how to determine rookie salaries on the basis of how good he thinks he is. Imagine an early second round pick holding out to obtain the money a #15 pick in the first round would get because he thinks he is as good as the #15 pick in the draft. Michael Crabtree hasn't proven a thing yet and he is basically arrogantly holding out for the money HE thinks he deserves. That is not the way it works in determining rookie salaries. If Crabtree comes out and has a couple of 1000 yard seasons and catches 10 TD's a season for a couple of years then he can come out and demand more money. But I think if he ever does get to camp he better check his arrogance and ego at the door before he starts playing for Mike Singletary.
    Aug 17, 2009 at 5:38 PM
  • DGame
    It's kinda funny how you want all this money and proved natha, homeboy lame, he need to stop listening to dem weenies in his circle and keep it 100 wit his self and prove what he can do then get that big chip later on down the line. Hey dumbass if you sit out you not getting big money next year like that you not even gettin late first round money next year, tell your folks that, matter fact to make they minds right tell em they not gonna get that much if you reenter next LMAO, you're stupid, oh did you run the 40? Hell no, get outta here Michael, better get the wind beneath you, GENIUS, LOL. These athletes.
    Aug 16, 2009 at 12:55 PM
  • Dirty9er
    I say trade the bum!!! It's about time we take a stand against these mental case divas. The NFL is a privilege to play for not a right and we should demand better from these overpaid, estrogen filled, fantasy world living cry babies!!! Here's hoping that his foot never heals and he is forced to work in the mines of discontent :)... I'd like him to wake up at age 35 and have a V-8 (oh crap what did I do) moment.
    Aug 14, 2009 at 4:08 PM
  • grizzlyadams
    Awesome! Someone should send this to Crabtree!
    Aug 14, 2009 at 6:51 AM
  • Matt C
    This article seems a bit harsh and unnecessary. I, like you and every other Niner fan, am really disappointed that Crabtree isn't in camp yet but I feel that we should really keep the hostility towards Crabtree to a minimum; I mean we aren't Raider fans here. Crabtree's only 21 and you and I both can agree that any advice he's been receiving isn't good. That being said we can't hate him for hiring family to be his advisor. I personally feel that be it negative or positive, there is way too much media coverage on Crab. At this point in time he should be an afterthought for Niner fans. I know everyone is still excited that we got him and really restless to see him in action but Parker and Crab also know this as there wouldn't be so many articles on him otherwise. The Niners will be the Niners with or without.
    Aug 13, 2009 at 3:20 PM
  • jk
    Good read and apparently you hit the "collective 49er nerve." Point on. A rumor is starting to circulate that his foot is not healed and he might as well hold out, since he is not ready to play. Any thoughts?
    Aug 13, 2009 at 10:47 AM
    Response: Thank you--all of you--for your feedback; I'm grateful to know I was able to get your motors running. As for Crabtree's health, that rumor's actually been circulating since the holdout first began. When asked about it, Singletary tried to nip it in the bud: "Oh yeah," he said. "He's ready to go." Based on that quote, Matt Maiocco reported that "All [Crabtree] needs is a signed contract." So although the rumor persists, I don't buy it, though only because I trust Singletary to know whereof he speaks. Of course, true or not, the persistence of the rumor makes the holdout all the more futile. Sure, if it's true, Crabtree might figure he might as well roll the dice. But since we wouldn't pay more than fair market value for even a healthy player, how could Crabtree expect us to pay more than fair market value for a guy who might be hurt? So any way you look at it, this holdout is just dumb.
  • Osiris_E.
    Here's a thought: Maybe – just maybe – he never wanted to be a 49er in the first place. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't he from Dallas? And isn't it conceivable that he grew up as a Cowboy fan and just hated the 49ers, especially with the long 49ers/Cowgirls (oops, I mean Cowboys) rivalry? Perhaps Crabass would rather sit the whole season, risk going into a rookie capped year thus taking less money, than to play for a team he already hates. I know if I were in the draft the absolute last team I would want to get drafted by is the Cowgirls (oops, I did it again). Anyone but the Cowgirls! Just a thought....
    Aug 13, 2009 at 6:53 AM
  • Tony Mobley
    Awesome article, Jeff. I too was a little moved by Crabtree's frustration during minicamp. That goodwill has long since been erased. Most of me wishes he would sit out the entire season, earning nothing. A small part of me wishes he would sign, but what then? Can this team really handle two Vernons?
    Aug 12, 2009 at 4:57 PM
  • gormless
    A timely and well-received summary. To me, you made relevant points and all were well-reasoned. Your digest expressed my own views well, as I'm sure it did those of countless other niner fans. How the tide has turned against Mr. Crabtree! Wanna bet there will now be an audible, collective groan if and when he does sign? By all rights (IMHO), he should be history. A round 2-3 draft pick and/or player-under-contract in return for his 2009-10 signing rights seem reasonable. Let some other team play plumber and unplug this toilet.
    Aug 11, 2009 at 8:28 PM
  • ninerfanintexas
    WOW! great piece of writing! after all this crap, all that come to mind are the words from Singletary, "Cannot play with them, cannot win with them" and they do not deserve to wear the gold and red. It would be an insult to Jerry and Joe and all the great PRO ATHLETES that brought all of us GLORY! Thanks.
    Aug 11, 2009 at 6:44 PM
  • mike
    GREAT, GREAT article! It's very hard to imagine someone can be that STUPID. Wanna play hard-ball with a proud historical franchise, Crabtree? you will lose! I don't even want your sorry @$$ here anymore. "I WANT WINNERS!" I agree with you, Shane O. I hope he reads this and reality bites him in the @@@@$$$$! I truly hope he sits out and ruins his career. what a punk.
    Aug 11, 2009 at 4:10 PM
  • ShaneO
    This is one of the greatest articles i ever read... i seriously want someone to print this and send it to that a$$hole. Every single point is undeniable... amazing job bro!
    Aug 11, 2009 at 1:13 PM
  • johnny martin
    Just wanted to say, AWESOME writing, not too sure anybody can TOP it. I only hope that the PUNK [email protected]@ reads the zone, and realizes that indeed he is screwing up his image as a football player. I for one in the beginning was like OK, holdout, no big deal, now time is ticking and he has already turned me off as a fan of him. I can hardly believe that he has Deion and Jerry advising him, it doesn't fit their image. Even Deion said that if you're that GREAT of a player MONEY will find you, that you can't chase MONEY as a ROOKIE (hasn't even played a down in the NFL). Sorry for the long comment, it gets my blood boiling about these ROOKIES holding out, especially in today's economy. johnny m
    Aug 11, 2009 at 11:24 AM
  • Randy Berry
    To the point Jeff Kaplan, kudos, even stellar. You have identified two big problems: Mr. Wells and a pervasive attitude of entitlement with rookies in the NFL. Here is a third problem: Eugene Parker is holding sway over someone who is a naive business person. This is far more difficult to fix. Can we? Will we?
    Aug 11, 2009 at 10:08 AM
  • Nicholas Koons
    Phenomenal article. Couldn't have put it in better words. Especially when you spoke of market value and defining his future if he were to sit out '09. Great job.
    Aug 11, 2009 at 9:14 AM

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