Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis were talking in conversational tones in the locker room after Wednesday's practice and seemed to have put their differences behind them, according to a player who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He said their conversation occurred after Mike Singletary pulled the team into the locker room and gave a speech in which he told the players, "We're a family and we don't treat each other that way."
That speech followed yet another bizarre 49ers practice in which Davis confronted Crabtree and got into an animated argument with the wide receiver. Singletary first had to pull the two onto an adjacent practice field, then the three disappeared into the locker room for 10 minutes while the rest of the team went through practice.
It has been widely assumed that Davis was upset over the fact that in two offseasons Crabtree has not played a single preseason game for the 49ers. He missed all four in 2009 while engaged in a contract dispute with the 49ers that lasted well into the regular season. At the time, Davis was the only 49er player who spoke out about Crabtree's absence. "He needs to get his butt here and help this team out," Davis said last year. "He has a chance to be a big-time player. He should take what he can get, and get here."
Crabtree has missed the first three preseason games this year after suffering a neck strain on Aug. 11. He has gone through full practices since that time, but has reported stiffness in the neck during pre-game warm ups and hasn't played.
The notion that Davis is unhappy with Crabtree's apathy toward the preseason makes perfect sense. Indeed, Singletary on Wednesday credited Davis with exposing the "elephant in the room." But the player who spoke about the incident insisted there is no team-wide resentment against Crabtree. "It really wasn't the big thing that everyone is making it out to be," he said.
Davis was a team captain last year, and listening to Singletary Wednesday, he is likely to be a captain this year. In that way, he may have been enforcing something that Singletary said Tuesday. Following that practice, he gathered the team at midfield and lectured them about losing focus as the preseason winds down.
"It was not a good practice," Singletary said of the Tuesday session. "Some of our guys right now just want to get tomorrow's game over with. A few of them know they're not going to be playing. Some of the rookies or younger guys that are on the bubble are nervous, can't even think straight; can't even see straight. So you have the combination of those things working together. I understand it, but it's unacceptable."
As I wrote yesterday, I think it will be very interesting to see whether Crabtree plays tonight. None of the marquee starters is expected to take the field. But if Crabtree suits up, he would be sending a message that he heard Davis loudly and clearly.
-- Matt Barrows