49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

May 27, 2011
Twitter Q&A: The Crabtree conundrum

@ElvinPritchard: Matt, if Crabtree arrived in the bay area, it almost certainly has to be with the purpose of working out with teammates, right?

A: That was my assumption and what I was told by a Crabtree acquaintance (no, it wasn't Hammer) last week. And yet Crabtree, who has a home in the South Bay, has yet to join the group of 49ers who have been regularly working out together since February.

It's still early, of course. Most of the 49ers, including prominent members like Frank Gore and Vernon Davis, have not been part of that South Bay group. And if there's a report next week that Crabtree and Alex Smith were seen practicing together on a high school field, all of the current Crabtree angst will be forgotten and we will be singing his praises.

However, the current situation only reinforces the notion that Crabtree is a loner and not a team player. At this point, there is little doubt that Smith is the frontrunner to be the team's starting quarterback in 2011. As you might recall, Smith and Crabtree weren't exactly Montana and Rice (Heck, they weren't even Rattay and Lloyd) early last season. Getting together and developing chemistry seems like a no brainer.

@jpl04002: What's up with Scott McKillop? Has everyone just forgotten about him?

A: McKillop and cornerback Phillip Adams suffered two of the 49ers' worst injuries last season. Both, however, are doing well with their rehabs. McKillop suffered a torn ACL and patellar tendon in his left knee, which obviously ended his 2011 season. The silver lining is that he did it in the first week of training camp, meaning he will have had nearly a year to recover (and perhaps more thanks to the lockout) when training camp resumes this year.

With Takeo Spikes expected back for another season, McKillop will battle NaVorro Bowman for the top backup role at inside linebacker. Also, don't go to sleep on Keaton Kristick, who as a rookie last year showed he was quick and had a nose for the ball.

@912mal : where does t brown fit into the teams long-term plans at cb. i kno the staff was high on him at one point, can he be a starter?

A: Tarell Brown's biggest champion has been Scot McCloughan, the team's former general manager. Brown has played really well at times, not so hot at others. My sense is that he has had confidence issues and that the coaching staff never was quite ready to anoint him as a starter.

@MDP23 : How do you think Taylor Mays fits into the new defense and does he start the opener alongside Goldson?

A: Mays - where he plays, whether he's a starter - will be one of the more intriguing story lines once practices resume. He's a good example of what's being lost right now. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has said multiple times that he wants to see his players on the field in person before deciding how they fit in his scheme. The lockout has denied the 49ers the most basic step in forming their new team - actually seeing the players in a team situation.

My sense, however, is that it will be Reggie Smith who is next to Goldson (assuming Goldson, a free agent, returns). Smith is simply more fluid and has better ball skills.

@Aaronsontilt: How will the West Coast Offense play into the strengths of our projected offense/A smith? What can we get excited to see?

A: I know that everyone around here has very specific ideas of what the West Coast offense looks like. Indeed, it's the reason why no one thought Colin Kaepernick would be a good fit. The reality is that the West Coast is very broad and a coach can mold it around the strengths of his players. After listening to Jim Harbaugh talk about the importance of having an athletic quarterback, I think you can expect a lot of movement - roll outs, etc. - from the quarterbacks.

That's something that Norv Turner did with some success with Smith in 2006. Indeed, when I was watching Smith work out the other day, he was concentrating a lot on throwing on the run. It was only a snippet of what is a voluminous playbook, but that always has been a strength of Smith's. Just ask Urban Meyer.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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