I think it’s about time to end the Michael Crabtree lovefest. Hands down, Crabs, Crab cakes, or whatever you want to call him (my personal favorite is Crabfest), is the greatest wide receiver in the 2009 NFL Draft, outranking the likes of Oakland’s pick, Darrius Heyward-Bey, by a longshot and a steal at No. 10 for the San Francisco 49ers.
But was Crabs really the answer for San Francisco? I don’t think so.
While the pick both excited and stimulated all of 49ers nation into hype not seen since Alex Smith was drafted first overall in 2005, it also killed any hope for what was expected to be the selection of Smith’s replacement.
With Matthew Stafford off the board two days prior and the New York Jets taking USC’s Mark Sanchez, hopes were slim as the remaining talent was heavily scrutinized.
All the while, all the pundits overlooked little old Josh Freeman of Kansas State, selected No. 17 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was written off for playing in a poor conference, being a project quarterback and generally not being the cool character that everyone knows Sanchez portrays.
There was so much scrutiny between the Stafford and Sanchez themselves, there wasn’t enough room to bring Freeman into the argument. Not to mention the fact that the 49ers were waddling over selecting one of the top-rated tackles or linebackers, Crabs was a pleasant surprise at No. 10.
“We had a head-on issue with it,” Singletary told the media on draft day. “You’ve got Michael Oher there, you’ve got (Michael) Crabtree. So what do you do? You want to tear up something. You’d like for it to be Crabtree or it’s Michael Oher. But when they’re both there at the same time and how we had our board, Crabtree is one of the best players in the draft so you’ve got to go there.”
You can say The Crabster’s availability threw a wrench in the 49ers’ planning. Or, if you’re thinking as nefariously as I am, the Raiders ruined the 49ers’ plans by passing up on the Texas Tech phenom.
How could they? As a two-time Biletnikoff winner, he was deserving of being the first receiver picked — bad foot and all. He’ll certainly prove his worth for years to come and Old Al will have to read it in his own local newspaper to boot.
But the 49ers were quick to jump the gun. Considering there are now 10 wide receivers on the roster, including Isaac Bruce, Josh Morgan, Arnaz Battle and Jason Hill, there won’t be enough balls to go around with all the development in the works.
The beautiful part about the NFL draft is there’s always room for redemption. The 49ers did their own version of addressing the quarterback issue and redeeming hopes in the future of the franchise’s lead role by picking up Ball State quarterback Nate Davis in the fifth round.
As Singletary put it, the guy was a steal. But don’t let him get your hopes up, he’ll have to put in at least a year carrying the clip board.
“This year, we’ve got Alex Smith and we’ve got Shaun Hill,” Singletary said. “Those two guys are competing for that job and at the quarterback position right now that’s enough to look at and focus on.”
One thing is for sure, and worthy of praise, there is a plan and there is focus. That’s promising.
Editor’s note: This column originally appeared in The Union.