Michael Crabtree was the most highly charged topic when the 49ers offensive players met earlier this month. With many of the same players planning to assemble next week, one of the team leaders sought to defuse the topic.
"Michael Crabtree - he's a great teammate," left tackle Joe Staley said on Sirius XM NFL radio on Wednesday. "I have nothing negative to say about Michael Crabtree. He does show up. He shows up to everything ... when we're together, he shows up. He has his own workout routine that he likes to do, that he feels comfortable with. We have 20 guys that are usually here (at San Jose State). Michael Crabtree is not the only one who's not here every day."
Staley's comments echoed those of quarterback Alex Smith, who on June 9 also insisted that Crabtree's reputation as a selfish player was overblown. Crabtree had caused a stir earlier that week when he seemed to minimize Smith's efforts in organizing the minicamp and questioned whether Smith indeed would be the starting quarterback in 2011. He also suffered sore feet from practicing on new cleats and sat out three of the four practices. It's not known whether Crabtree will attend next week's practice sessions.
Hosts Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan also asked Staley about Smith, most significantly whether the quarterback can win over a skeptical fan base. Staley said the players feel that incoming head coach Jim Harbaugh will reverse the team's losing ways - he called it a "new era here for the 49ers" -- and that Smith will be part of that rising tide.
"The truth of the matter is that we haven't won a lot of games here," Staley said. "The fans are angry about that. The players are angry about that. And rightfully so. So it's not going to be something that happens overnight. ... Once we start putting the product on the field and seeing the results we expect to see, they'll come around."
The entire interview lasts 20 minutes and there are some very interesting nuts-and-bolts questions and answers about pass protection (chip blocks, "radar" calls, etc.) that are worth listening to if you really want to increase your football IQ. Here's a clip.
-- Matt Barrows