Crabtree does himself no favors


Crabtree does himself no favors

SANTA CLARA -- The ramifications of Michael Crabtree's business and personal decision three years ago are still being felt.Once Crabtree -- and his agent, Eugene Parker, who up to that point seemed to promote training-camp absences as a negotiating tool -- decided to stay away from his rookie training camp, the entire public perception of Crabtree was permanently forged.In several pre-draft reports in 2009, Crabtree was portrayed as a "diva." And when Crabtree and Parker finally decided it was time to sign his contract as the No. 10 overall pick (after four regular-season games), the 49ers took advantage of the opportunity to include a "diva clause" into his deal.First, Crabtree had to agree to a sixth year (when everyone else at that spot in the draft signed five-year deals) and he signed off on a clause in which millions of dollars in base-salary escalators would be received only if he achieved at least 90-percent participation in all 49ers team activities mandatory and voluntary.Since that first summer, Crabtree has reported on time to training camps. That has not been the issue.It's just that he has never played in an exhibition game. He is currently rehabbing from a
right lower leg injury which makes him questionable to appear in the 49ers' exhibition opener on Friday against the Minnesota Vikings.Crabtree's biggest problem since coming to the NFL is that he and his advisors have done nothing to change his public image in the Bay Area. In my limited dealings with Crabtree, I've found that he has a good personality and he is passionate about football. But he rarely agrees to any form of interview, so the public is allowed no glimpse into his mindset and what makes him tick.The last time I spoke to Crabtree was the day after the NFC championship game. He was still frustrated with the team's loss and his lack of production. He caught just one pass for 3 yards. Quarterback Alex Smith targeted Crabtree on five attempts. And that was the source of Crabtree's frustration."Watch the other offenses. I see guys get 20 attempts and dropping four or five balls and still catch 10, and they're having a good game," he said on January 23, the day after the 49ers' overtime loss to the New York Giants. "It's crazy how football works."When you look at plays on the field that were made, it was like there was no separation between anybody this last game (against the New York Giants). I was seeing guys getting balls thrown to them and they had three people on them -- they were getting a chance to make a play."Crabtree did not mention Alex Smith by name. And when I brought up Smith, he said he "didn't want to be put in that category" of being a "bad guy." I have no problem with a player expressing frustration after a loss. But those are the last words I've heard him speak. He is the only player on the 49ers who has not been available for interviews since the end of last season.
Smith and Crabtree had plenty of time during the offseason to discuss all aspects of the 49ers' offense and Smith's expectations for Crabtree.
Crabtree was healthy for the entire nine-week offseason program. Even if Crabtree has taken part in only one day of 11-on-11 practice during training camp, Smith believes enough work was accomplished in the offseason to set them up for success."He had such a great spring and summer," Smith said last week. "I don't know when he's going to be back, but we look forward to his return. Hopefully, it's not too long. I know I feel good about what he got done this offseason. It's a long camp. I feel like he'll be back and get some good work in."Crabtree was on the field Monday to take part in some individual work. Smith and Crabtree walked off the field together, joking and clearly at ease with one another.During his three regular seasons with the 49ers, Crabtree has been a good player. (Judging by comments in previous posts, some will surely disagree.) His overall numbers have risen every season.RELATED: Crabtree career stats 2011 game logs News
In spite of starting last season slowly (four catches, 28 yards through three weeks with one game inactive due to lingering soreness from offseason foot surgery), he still led the 49ers with 72 catches for 874 yards. Tight end Vernon Davis, who played every game, was second on the team with 67 receptions for 792 yards.Only the Denver Broncos attempted fewer passes than the 49ers last season. And the 49ers ranked 29th in passing yards. So the 49ers of last season were not the place for a pass-catcher to pad his stats. Yet, Crabtree tied for 16th in the NFL among wide receivers in receptions and 28th in receiving yards.The 49ers listed their official depth chart on Monday. And while three receivers were listed as eitheror options on one side, Crabtree's name was all alone as the starter at the other wideout spot. I'd be very surprised if Crabtree is not again the 49ers' clear No. 1 wide receiver.RELATED: 49ers release first official camp depth chart
But perceptions are perceptions. The injury problems are one thing. But Crabtree has complete control when it comes to how he is perceived among 49ers fans.

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

SANTA CLARA – Despite recording seven interceptions in his first two seasons and being named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Eric Reid said he believes he is now in a role that best fits his skillset.

Whereas in the past, the 49ers’ safety positions were considered interchangeable, there is a clear delineation this season under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“Even dating back to college, this is the first time there’s a distinct strong (safety) and a distinct free (safety),” Reid said. “I’ve been used to the interchangeability type of role.

“(In) some situations, certain calls where there’s a motion, we might flip. There are a couple situations where I might be in the post in the free-safety role, but it’s not nearly as much as it has been in the past.”

Reid, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 213 pounds, said he is excited to be stationed closer to the line of scrimmage for run support while free safety Jimmie Ward patrols the deep middle of the field.

The 49ers offseason program concluded Wednesday, and Reid found himself in the middle of the action with an interception on a short Brian Hoyer pass over the middle. While he will still be counted upon for coverage, his biggest impact could come to assist a run defense that last season ranked among the worst in NFL history.

“I love it, being around the ball more,” Reid said. “I anticipate making more tackles, hopefully making more plays. I feel like I was made for this position with my body type, being a bigger safety. I’m excited about this year.

“I feel like I’m using what God has blessed me with, more, which is my size and being in the box in the run game. In the past, I felt like I could do more. And being in the post, I can’t use my size as much when it comes to the run game.”

After producing seven interceptions in his first two seasons, Reid recorded just one interception in 26 games over the past two seasons.

As a first-round pick in 2013, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option this season for $5.676 million. He is scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the season. Reid said the 49ers have not spoken to his representation about a long-term extension. That will come, he believes, if he lives up to his end of the bargain in his new, streamlined role.

“I look at it from a business standpoint,” Reid said. “I majored in business. They have me under contract. They don’t have any reason to talk to right now. I imagine if I play well in the first half of the season, they’ll reach out to me. Maybe they’ll reach out to me before training camp, I don’t know. It’s whatever route they decide to take. It’s a business. I’ll treat it as a business. I have a job to do, so I’ll do it.”


Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan always wanted to coach football with his father. But, first, he knew he had to prove himself without any boost from his well-known dad.

Once the son established himself as one of the NFL’s respected offensive minds, the Shanahans teamed up for four up-but-mostly-down seasons with Washington.

Mike, the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach, hired his son to serve as his top offensive assistant in 2010.

“I thought we saw football similar, but we quickly realized after a few weeks that we saw it differently,” Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area in February. “We grew together. He gave me a lot of leeway while I was there. It was fun to try a bunch of different things, having to even incorporate the zone read when we got Robert (Griffin).

“We did our deal in Washington, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world, but that was pretty much the end of it.”

Kyle Shanahan broke into the coaching ranks under Karl Dorrell at UCLA. He moved onto the NFL to work with Jon Gruden on the staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gary Kubiak with the Houston Texans. But nothing prepared him for the scrutiny he would face as offensive coordinator under his father.

Kyle Shanahan adjusted the Washington offense to take advantage of Griffin’s skills as a dual-threat quarterback as a rookie 2012. The club qualified for the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

But things blew up the following season as the Mike Shanahan-Griffin relationship soured. Shanahan and eight assistant coaches, including Kyle, were fired the morning after Washington’s 3-13 season concluded.

Mike Shanahan has remained out of coaching, though he was a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching job after the 2015 season. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly.

Kyle Shanahan rebuilt his career with one season as offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns and two successful seasons with the Atlanta Falcons to enable him to become CEO Jed York’s choice to replace Kelly.

There is no official role for Mike Shanahan, 64, on his son’s staff with the 49ers. But the father has attended several of the team’s practices this offseason, including both days of the 49ers’ mandatory minicamp this week. Mike has been issued his own iPad that gives him access to the 49ers playbook and coach's film. He will likely visit for an extended stay during training camp. But Kyle said he believes his dad will mostly remain home -- only a phone call away -- during the regular season.

“He’s enjoying life right now,” said Kyle, 37. “He’s got a pretty good deal in Denver, where he lives. He can help me out in other ways anyways without having to be here every day.”

Mike Shanahan does not need to be in the building every day to counsel and have influence on his son as he tries to navigate his first season as the head coach while also maintaining the responsibilities of running the team’s offense.

“You’re going 1,000 miles an hour,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Sometimes to see everything you’ve got to really slow things down and take your time to look at stuff and you don’t always have that time as a head coach.

“It’s nice when someone you know who thinks similar to you has a similar background and he just sits in a room all day and watches stuff. He doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He can see some things that I’m not always seeing and just to bring things to light that maybe I missed or other people have missed.”

Mike Shanahan was a successful NFL offensive coordinator for seven seasons. He won a Super Bowl on George Seifert’s staff with the 49ers in January 1995. His dad believes his time around the 49ers has a lasting impact.

“When I was with San Francisco, Kyle was at the 49ers training camps in Rocklin,” Mike Shanahan told Fangirl Sports Network. “He stayed with me at camp and we talked about football every night.

“He had the opportunity to experience an organization that had won four Super Bowls in nine years. He also had the opportunity to be around some great people and leaders. He still tells stories and talks about people like Steve Young, Joe Montana, Harris Barton, Tom Rathman, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Deion Sanders, and many others. What a great experience to see how these men handled themselves on and off the field.”

The Denver Broncos hired him to become head coach shortly after the 49ers’ 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Shanahan went on to win two Super Bowls in his 14 seasons with the Broncos.

Kyle Shanahan was a wide receiver at Duke before finishing college at Texas, where he caught 14 passes for 127 yards in two seasons. He figured he would have a career in football and it would not be as a player.

“I’ve wanted to coach my whole life,” Kyle Shanahan said. “This is all I’ve known, just growing up around football. It’s almost all I’ve been into, too. Since I was little, it’s distracted me from everything I’ve done, especially school. I always tried to tell my mom, ‘Just be patient, it’ll play out for us in the long run.’ Fortunately, it did.

“Once I realized my genes were a little bit better as a coach than as a player, I pretty much locked into that – and that was about halfway through college. I haven’t looked back.”

During his short time with the 49ers, players on both sides of the ball have expressed amazement at how knowledgeable Kyle Shanahan is about the game of football. His dad told Fangirl Sports Network to succeed as a head coach he must always be dedicated to stuyding, learning and teaching the sport.

“He loves the game and knows it inside and out,” Mike Shanahan said. “My advice to him is to never lose the drive to study the game as he’s done over the last 13 years. To stay in the NFL as a head coach and have success for any length of time, you must never lose your drive to teach and stay abreast of what the top teams are doing every year: offense, defense, special teams. You must be able to coach all positions to really understand the whole game.”

Former 49ers president Carmen Policy said he remembers young Kyle serving as a ball boy during 49ers training camp in the early 1990s. Policy, who remains close to Mike Shanahan, has followed Kyle’s rise in the coaching ranks while playfully questioning the sanity of the family business.

Said Policy: “I used to tease Mike, ‘What kind of father are you to let your kid go into coaching?’ I said, ‘You should be charged with dereliction of parental duty.’ And he’d laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I tried talking to him and then my wife tried talking to him, but that’s his passion, and that’s what he wants to do, so I’m not going to dissuade him from it.’

“And, then, look at what happened. Here he is. He’s the head coach of the 49ers, and that’s just incredible.”