I find Michael Crabtree funny. Not a "look-at-me-I'm-hilarious funny," but a "good-natured-I'm-gonna-dish-it-out-and-I'm-gonna-take-it" type of funny. I've seen snippets of Crabtree's wit in his first three years with the team, but it's typically been from across the locker room or field when I happen to see him interact with a teammate. I've seen a lot more of it this preseason.As Crabtree stood in front of his locker today and answered questions about the upcoming season opener against Green Bay, a reporter asked him if he's bigger, more muscular this season. Crabtree didn't miss a beat."You see my guns?" Crabtree said, flexing a little, causing the group to laugh. "Just a little bit. Just a little bit."I had heard an assistant strength and conditioning coach yelling for players to come step on the scale and after most of the reporters left, I asked Crabtree if he had weighed in yet. He hadn't, and he asked me what I thought he weighed.I guessed, "215?"Crabtree made it clear that was too heavy -- 6 pounds too heavy to be exact. He's at 209, he said. Same as last year."OK," I challenged him. "Fair game, then. How much do I weigh?"Crabtree laughed and guessed way too light (on purpose I quickly found out). He followed up his first guess a few seconds later and nailed my weight within two pounds. He smiled and walked off to get ready for the team photo.During preseason practices, Crabtree sometimes warmed up with the defensive linemen. One day, he stood on one end of the line while the group did leg kicks a short distance up and down the field and yapped at Justin Smith almost the whole time. Smith was standing on the other end of the line. Crabtree was sure to use Smith's nickname "Cowboy" a lot and what he was saying amused the players in between them as well as defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.Then there is the tally sheet he keeps on his matchups with cornerback Carlos Rogers. He gives himself a point each time he wins the battle when the two match up in practice. He makes sure he shows Rogers how much he's leading by before they head out to the field. Rogers laughed about it when he brought it up during a session with the media. Crabtree was happy to explain further when he was asked about it during his media session a few days later.Those cramming to find players for their fantasy teams right now may be thinking, "And why do I care about Crabtree's sense of humor?" Simply put, he appears utterly relaxed and comfortable heading into the season. The addition of Randy Moss could have something to do with that. During today's media scrum Crabtree was asked once again about Moss' influence on him this preseason."That's my dude. Makes me feel like I can be myself," Crabtree said. "Seeing an old guy like that, being himself so long, you just have to accept him. I just feel like that's what I'm doing, I'm just going to be myself go out here and play. You can learn from a guy like that. You don't have to change for nobody. All you gotta do is be yourself and play your game."There are no stats to back up my observation. And yes, right now the players are typically relaxed and in good moods as the grind of the regular season has yet to begin. But if Crabtree truly can just be himself and continue to have fun, that could have a bigger influence on the offense this season than his playing weight, how much more he can bench, and his 40 time.
Michael Wilhoite has spent his whole five-year NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers.
But now the free agent inside linebacker is reportedly switching sides in the NFC West rivalry. Wilhoite is set to sign with the Seattle Seahawks, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Terms of the deal are unknown at this time.
Wilhoite, 30, played in all 16 games last season for the 49ers, starting in only six. In 2016 he recorded 55 tackles, 30 less than 2015 in four less games, and forced one fumble.
After earning a promotion from the 49ers' practice squad in 2012, Wilhoite's career in the Bay Area comes to an end with 268 tackles and three interceptions in 65 games.
NEW YORK -- NFL owners will consider proposals next week to cut regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10; eliminate players leaping over the line on kick plays; and expansion of coaches' challenges and what can be reviewed by officials.
In what promises to be a busy annual meeting next week in Phoenix that will include discussing the Raiders' potential relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, the 32 owners also will vote on changing the mechanics on replay reviews and other items intended to reduce downtime during games.
The Eagles proposed four rules changes, including abolishing the leaping techniques that league football operations director Troy Vincent said Thursday "don't belong in the game."
Seattle and Buffalo co-authored a proposal allowing a coach to challenge any officiating decision, whether a foul is called or not.
"That is a significant change to our current replay rule and it is something that will be on the floor and will be debated next week," NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino said.
Another major change would be the reduction of overtime in-season; the extra period in the playoffs would remain at 15 minutes. The powerful competition committee, of which Vincent and Blandino are members, believed it's a player safety issue, noting that number of snaps for games going to OT - especially deep into the overtime - is excessive. Especially if a team has a quick turnaround.
"We don't know where a team is going to be playing the next week, it could be four days later," said committee chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons. "We felt we should put an end to it. We don't think it will lead to more ties. Could it? It could, but we are not concerned with that."
As for changing the format of overtime to ensure both teams always get a possession - a popular topic after how the Super Bowl ended - Blandino said the league's wants to keep the element of sudden death in the extra period.
The "leaper rule" has taken some priority among competition committee members, the players' union and coaches. Vincent said coaches have begun scheming how to defense it, which can "create a real safety issue."
"It is really in the best interest of the game" to outlaw leaping on kicks," Vincent added.
McKay noted that the NCAA is in the process of passing a similar ban on the technique.
During the meetings that run from Sunday to Wednesday, the teams will be shown plays the competition committee believes should result in suspensions or ejections. Game officials already have had the leeway to eject players, but it rarely has happened; there were three in 2016.
"They don't happen very often, let's give the players credit," McKay said. "We have 40,000 plays in a year. We'll show a tape that will have four or five plays that would warrant suspension. This is not a widespread situation."
Added Vincent, a former NFL defensive back: "When you see the plays, they are catastrophic. We had two players who did not return for the season. They are high-impact plays that belong out of the game. It will be a real point of emphasis this season."