The 49ers haven't had a big-play wide receiver since Terrell Owens stormed out of San Francisco. They may have found his replacement. The team today used its No. 10 draft pick on Michael Crabtree, the prolific Texas Tech receiver who was the consensus No. 1 receiver in the nation this past season. In two seasons at Texas Tech, Crabtree caught 231 passes for 3,127 yards and - most impressively - 41 touchdowns. Crabtree stands 6-1 and what makes him attractive to the 49ers is that he weighs 214 pounds. The 49ers like their receivers to be more than 200 pounds.
Coach Mike Singletary said the 49ers were surprised that Crabtree, 21, fell that far. The 49ers had Crabtree as the No. 1 receiver in the draft and one of the top players, Singletary said. "We had no idea that he would be there at 10. It's one of the last scenarios we thought we'd end with."
Rumors of diva-ish behavior had been attached to Crabtree in the days leading up to the draft. Singletary, however, said the team did its homework on the young receiver and were not scared off. Part of that research was conducted by Singletary, a North Texas native, on Crabtree, who grew up in Dallas. Singletary said he got a good report on Crabtree from Deion Sanders, another Dallas area resident, who trained with Crabtree prior to the combine. Asked if teams wanted a No. 1 wideout to have a bit of attitude, Singletary said, "I just think it's one of those things nowadays when you've got great players you get a little attitude with them. ... A little swagger is fine with me." Crabtree also was asked about his reputation. "I have no idea (where that came from)," he said in a conference call. "Poeple like to put receivers in a certain category."
During the combine, doctors discovered that Crabtree had a stress fracture in his foot. He had surgery shortly thereafter to repair it, and he hasn't been able to run for teams before the draft. Singletary, however, said that Crabtree's game tape not only showed he could get open but that he could pull away from defensive backs. "He knows how to use his body. He has exceptional hands. And he's running away from people at the same time."
Singletary said Crabtree probably could take part only in the walk-throughs of the team's upcoming minicamp but that he'd be ready for training camp. Where would he play? That's undetermined, but Singletary isn't worried. "He's going to have to earn his way on (the field). But the most important thing is that we know we have a playmaker." Crabtree said that his foot was fine and that he'd begin running soon. He agreed with Singletary that he'd be ready for training camp.
Crabtree will join a receiver rotation that already has good-looking second-year player Josh Morgan and third-year player Jason Hill. He also will benefit from the tutelage of veteran Isaac Bruce. The caveat about Crabtree is that he was dealing with a stress fracture to his foot over the past two months and has been unable to show how fast he is. The Raiders may have allowed Crabtree to join the 49ers when they took receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey out of Maryland with the 7th pick. The Jaguars used the eight pick on offensive tackle Eugene Monroe while the Packers, who are transitioning to a 3-4 defense, selected nose tackle B.J. Raji.
Singletary was asked whether the 49ers considered receiver Jeremy Maclin or offensive tackle Michael Oher at No. 10 instead of Crabtree. As for Maclin, Singletray said the 49ers rated Crabtree as the No. 1 receiver. And Oher? "Absolutely a thought," he said. "You know for me -- that was absolutely a thought." Oher ended up being drafted at No. 23 to Baltimore; Maclin went 19th to Philadelphia.
-- Matt Barrows