Michael Crabtree got his first day of practice in today after his lunch time press conference with Mike Singletary. One would imagine a bit of awkwardness heading into the press conference, but when you're dealing with Coach Singletary, it's just a matter of grabbing the bull by the horns and just moving forward. I just received the press conference transcript from a session that included Coach Singletary, Crabtree, GM Scot McCloughan and Shaun Hill...all key parties in the either the negotiation or going forward on the field.
The picture on the right is from today's practice. If you scroll over it and click you'll be able to view some other practice shots. We had a shot posted by wjackalope that shows Crabtree truly is entering his personal "training camp." Crabtree gets his name taped to his helmet and his helmet does NOT include a 49ers logo. It's possible it's a first day thing, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was like this until Crabtree officially is added to 53-man roster.
The transcripts are here and after the jump. We start with Coach Singletary's opening statement. After the jump we hear from Crabtree, Coach Singletary again, McCloughan and then Hill:
"Good afternoon, or good morning to be technical about it. First of all, this is a great day for the 49ers. Yesterday, when [President] Jed York and [general manager] Scot McCloughan and [Vice President of Football Operations] Paraag [Marathe] went down to visit with [WR] Mike [Crabtree] and all of his assistants and officially the agent and worked all day and all night to get a deal done, it shows the commitment in place of having Crabtree here. Obviously, Michael has missed a lot of time, a lot of valuable time and has a lot of work to catch up on, in particular, spending a lot of time with [wide receivers coach] Jerry Sullivan and [offensive coordinator] Jimmy Raye, in terms of getting all the little nuances right about where his position is going to be, where he’s going to play and learning all that stuff that he needs. So, I’m excited about the opportunity for Mike to continue to grow there.
The contract, it is a six-year contract. The terms or details will not be discussed, but it is a six-year contract. It’s a fair deal for both parties involved. The other thing here is I know there have been a lot of things said back and forth. And, I’ve always said from Day 1, until I heard something from Michael, all the other stuff doesn’t mean anything to me. I’m very excited to have Mike Crabtree be a part of this team. In my mind, he has been since the day of the draft and today really makes it official. But, I’m excited about the talent that he is. I’m excited about his attitude, and now it’s just a matter of getting him injected into our organization and what the 49ers are doing, our work ethic, our culture, our respect that we have for each other and the way we play the game. I think that’s very exciting to me, and I know he fits that.
As I look forward, it’s going to be a process. Mike will not play this week. We have already applied for a roster exemption, and we will hear back from that and go from there. Hopefully, after the bye, Mike will be ready to go. Certainly, it’s going to start small. A small role here and there, figuring out ways to get him on the field, and as he understands what it is that he needs to do and begin to understand the package, it’s going to be a work in progress. But, I’m very excited about that, and we will find ways to get him on the field. Once again, I want to say that it’s a tremendous opportunity to have Mike on our team. I’m excited for him, and I’m excited for us. I think he’s coming to a great place where there are a lot of great young men who will help him in the process of getting acclimated. Everything has been said, everything has been done, all that other stuff – it is behind us. We are going forward. We’re looking forward to the opportunity that we have this weekend with Atlanta. Now, without further ado, I’m going to let you have Mike here for a couple a questions because he’s got to go and look at the game plan. He’s got to start learning this stuff. Go ahead."
Press Conference – October 7, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
On what changed in his approach to make the deal happen now:
"My whole approach was let my agent handle all of my business. The 49ers came to us and we came to them, and everybody came to a reachable agreement, and it happened."
On what brought everything together:
"I feel like both sides wanted to meet and we came to an agreement."
On why it was worth it to holdout and then sign now:
"I’m just glad I’m past that part."
On what he gained from the holdout:
"I’m very humbled right now. It’s a very humbling experience. It was just getting a chance to sit back and better myself as a person and as a player – as a teammate."
On whether holding out made him humble:
"I’m not saying it made me humble, but it’s a humbling experience. I feel like going through that, it made me look at the world a different way, look at my teammates a different way. Hopefully, it works out for the best."
On how it feels to be a professional athlete now:
"It’s a lot of relief off of my shoulders. I can’t wait to get into this locker room with my teammates, get under coach Mike Singletary and go out there and play on Sundays."
On what he hopes to be able to contribute this season:
"I’m doing the best job I can do. Anything coach asks me to do, whether it’s blocking or running go routes for no reason, I’m doing it all just to win. Anything I can do to win, help this team win, I’m here."
On how closely he watched the 49ers games this season:
"I watched every game. It’s the team that drafted me, so I watched them very closely, the intensity they put in every Sunday. I’m looking forward to playing a big role in that offense."
On whether he’s worried about not being able to achieve the number’s he expects to get:
"I’m not a numbers guy. I’m a football player, and, like I said, whatever coach asked me to do, I’m out there doing it to my best ability."
On whether he thought there was a point where he would sit out the entire season and re-enter the draft next season:
"My whole approach in this situation was get better every day. I never looked at what the media was saying or anything anybody else was saying. That’s how I took it."
On what his cousin said about sitting out the year:
"I’m Michael Crabtree. Whatever I say is what I say."
On whether he’s concerned that some of his teammates might not be receptive to him coming in mid-season:
"If the team accepts me, I can’t do anything other than play my part. I’m coming in and I’m ready to play football."
On whether he’s concerned about having to win-over the fans:
"I wouldn’t know if they were upset with me or not. All I can do is just come in here and be the best that I can be and try to do the best job I can do."
Press Conference (Part Two) – October 7, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
On whether he will be at practice today:
"He’ll be on the field. I know that. First of all, thank you for how you treated him and the questions that you asked. All that I can tell you about him is after meeting with him a couple of times, I only met with him a couple of times and I know some of you guys have your own opinion. The only thing that I can say is I know that this kid is a kid of character. When I talked to his high school football coach, when I talked to people that were around him, that grew up with him, I learned a lot about him and was excited about having him be a part of this team and was really hoping that at some point in time that it worked out because I want people like that on this team. All the diva and all of that stuff, we don’t even have time for that. We are working so hard and we are going in another direction and anything else that tries to enter that picture cannot fit. Aside from everything else, I’m excited to have him here. The team is excited to have him here because they want to win too and anything and anybody that helps us win, that’s what we want."
On what he needs to do to show his teammates that he was worth the wait:
"I think he’s going to do what he needs to do and that is work his tail off, stay with the coaches, be a shadow to [Wide Receivers Coach] Jerry Sullivan, make sure that he works his tail off and obviously he’s going to have to earn their trust. But, the most important thing is that he doesn’t worry about, ‘How do I do this and how do I do that? What are they thinking about?’ Forget that. That’s done. All you need to do is come in here and be who you are. What we saw on film in college, let’s see that on film in the pros, it’s as simple as that. You just have to jump in with both feet and not really be worried about the other peripheral things because that’s going to slow you down."
On whether this can be a distraction:
"It will not be. We are going in this direction and everybody that’s not going in this direction, they are going to get left behind. So any distraction, we will leave back there, but this will not be a distraction."
On whether he thinks Crabtree can be a difference maker in right away:
"I think it all depends on how we approach it. I think [Offensive Coordinator] Jimmy Raye, Jerry Sullivan, they’ve dealt with rookies before. They’ve been around the game for a long time. They know it’s personality and they are just going to feed him information as he can grasp the information. I know he’s in great shape, he’s been working his tail off the whole time, so that’s not an issue. So all he really has to do is understand the nuances of the offense and as he continues to grow. Another thing that I think will help him tremendously is what he did in college. He ran an offense where they ran a number of routes. So the passing tree, I think he’ll understand that going into it and that makes it that much easier. I think that will help him."
On whether he jumps ahead of the other receivers on the roster because of his talent:
"I think from the beginning, what we’ll do, we’ll have certain packages that he will be a part of and instead of just putting him in and saying, ‘Okay, I know you worked the whole offseason, I know you’ve been here, but you know what Crabtree is here now.’ Instead of doing that, [we’ll] make him a part of smaller packages and as his teammates see what he has, it’s just a matter of them saying, ‘Hey coach, we need him on the field.’ It’s a matter of [QB] Shaun Hill saying, ‘Hey, he makes us better.’ That’s when you put a guy on the field and that’s how you have to bring a guy along."
On whether he will play any special teams:
"To begin with I think he’s going to do more to help the offense rather than just putting him on special teams right now. I think the biggest thing we want to do is put everything that we can channel into learning the offense. That’s what we want to spend time on. Special teams will come later."
On what his expectations are for Crabtree during the Bye Week:
"I don’t know. I’ll have to wait until after this game. I haven’t thought that far enough along yet."
On whether he ever told general manager Scot McCloughan and President Jed York they needed to have Crabtree in by a certain date:
"Absolutely not. The only thing that I’ve said in every meeting that we had, every comment that I’ve made, I’ve said, ‘Crabtree, I want you to know exactly how I feel.’ We talked about it at the very beginning. I said, ‘Scot, Jed, you will never me see walk down and knock on your door and say, we need to have Michael Crabtree.’ Because this team is built around 53 guys that want to be here and want to play. For me, the team is what’s going to win. Guys like Michael Crabtree - talent helps us win football games, but when you have guys out there that are willing to do the work that we were doing, those are the guys that I was most excited about. Now he’s here and he’ll have to work himself into that slot, into that 53, but I have never hinted, I have never said anything like that."
On whether he was involved in the talks that went late into the night:
"No, I just talked to Scot a couple of times during the day about the progress in the meeting and told him to give me a call when it looked like it was going to happen. Otherwise, I really didn’t want to hear anything."
On what time the call came:
"I was asleep."
On whether he had any conversations with Crabtree after OTAs ended:
On when it was:
"I can’t remember when it was, but I had one conversation."
On what the message of the conversation was:
"The conversation was basically, ‘Whatever you do, just continue to work your tail off. I don’t know when you are coming in, but whenever it happens, just know that we’ll be here. But make sure you stay in great shape because there will be no balloons, no parties, nothing else, when you get here. We’ve got to work. That’s what we are doing, and just to know that I was praying for him and pulling for him and excited for when that would happen.’"
On whether he talked to him this yesterday:
"No, I did not. I talked to him once and that was the only time."
On how much of a relief it is to get it done:
"It’s not really a relief. I think more than anything else, I’m happy for him and don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for us too, but I’m really happy for him because this team is really going to be something special and if I’m reading him right, I want young men like him to be a part of this. This is a great group of guys to play with. These guys are winners and for him to be a part of this and the desire that I have felt from him when I’ve been around him. He is a football guy so he hasn’t played one play in the NFL yet, but it’s just a vibe that I’ve gotten every time that I’ve been around him. So I think it’s a win-win situation."
On how he would explain all the other things: MC Hammer, missing four games, etc. if he is a football guy:
"Understand this, there are so many factors and by him being a rookie, it is so important for me not to sit back and judge him, ‘Oh, I heard this. He’s going to sit out all year. Wait until he gets here. We don’t need him.’ I didn’t hear him say one word. All I heard was a lot of talk back and forth in the media, but I did not hear Mike Crabtree say one word and to me that’s very important and I think it’s one of those things I learned a long time ago that I can’t go on what I think I heard. I have to go on, if I have an issue with somebody – and it’s one of things that I tell our team, ‘If you have an issue with somebody on this team, go to them directly. Don’t go through the media. Don’t go through your coach. Be man enough to go to him directly and say, ‘I’ve got a problem, I’ve got an issue.’ Deal with it that way.’"
On whether he sees him starting at the end of the season if he picks up the offense quickly:
"I’m not going to go that far. I’m going to say right now, I am thankful he is here. We’ve got Atlanta this week. That’s a team that’s 2-1, a good football team, a dangerous football team. They had a week off to do all kinds of gadgets or whatever else. The most important thing right now is that I’m thankful that he’s here, but we are getting ready for Atlanta. We are now 3-0 in our division and I want to be 3-0 at home and that’s going to take everything we’ve got to get there."
Press Conference – October, 7 2009
San Francisco 49ers
"First of all, I would like to thank not just our own guys in the front office with [Vice President of Football Operations] Paraag [Marathe] and his guys, but also Eugene Parker and his associates. This process took a lot longer than we wanted it to, but I thought it was handled very professionally on both ends. It was not negotiated through the media, which I think is very important for our organization and our stance we want to take. The one thing, and coach really responded to it, about the process is a business. It is the tough part of business, but that is the NFL for you. It would be nice if there was a slotted system where all of the young guys were automatically in for camp and on time. It would help them out, but it’s not that way. Maybe in the future it might be. Again, I want to compliment them as much as our guys about the way the process took place."
On the terms of the agreement:
"I don’t want to get into the details of it. I will say it is a six-year deal. I honestly think it was a very good deal for both sides for the 10th pick of the ‘09 Draft."
On the importance for the 49ers to hold their ground during negotiations:
"Very important. We needed to, not just prove a point, but what you do now is what happens in the future as well. If you start setting precedents you don’t want to follow in the future, you really handcuff your organization. The one thing that was nice, and Coach Sing spoke about it, is there was no panic from the ownership and the head coach. Not one time did they come to me and say, ‘Listen, we have to have this guy in.’ I know we are sitting at 3-1 right now, and some people ask why Michael wanted to come in now. I feel that if we were 1-3 the ownership and the head coach still would not show any panic saying it has to get done."
On the breakthrough that got the deal done:
"It was unique because I kept telling Paraag and Jed that this would come out of left field, this will be something that you don’t see this week and two weeks in advance that it is going to happen. There was some communication made between both parties. It was ongoing back and forth with Paraag and with Eugene since we drafted him. Jed did reach out, through the radio, that he would like to have a face-to-face. We had told that to Eugene prior too, but they weren’t ready for it. They were only going to come if we guaranteed we would switch our proposal, and we weren’t going that route. Then all of a sudden on Sunday night, boom, they called and said, ‘Listen, we are flying into town.’ We had no idea if that meant they were coming in for a meeting. We just knew they were both going to be in town at some time."
On whether the 3-1 record had something to do with Crabtree’s decision:
"Being around Michael and knowing Michael as well as I did prior to the draft and even sitting with him yesterday one-on-one with him for a while, he is a football player. His identity, what makes him who he is, is because he was on the football field making plays. Any young person that goes through this, I was lucky to play a little bit of minor league baseball, you want to be out there with the guys. You want to be part of it. It didn’t hurt at all that we are having success whatsoever. It didn’t hurt at all that there is a positive vibe out there, not just locally, but nationally, about the way the team is going. Coach Singletary is getting a reputation now of not just helping guys on the field, but off the field. I think that is vital for these young players and I think that played into it as well."
On whether Crabtree told his agent he wanted to be here:
"I know this, yes, he wanted to be a 49er. One of the first things he said to me when I saw him yesterday was, ‘I have a red tie.’ And I said, ‘It kind of matches your Texas Tech colors.’ And he said, ‘Absolutely not. It is the 49ers colors and that is who I am.’"
On whether Crabtree is selfish:
"No. No. If we hadn’t done our homework prior to the draft and not known this kid exactly in our opinion who he was, everyone is talking this diva, and his entourage and all the people around him. He had good people around him. Nowadays, with such a high-profile pick, and the fact that he was holding out, you saw much more of the negativity than the positives from him. Now one thing Coach did say, and it was true, you never heard Michael Crabtree talking. One of the things he pointed out to all of us when we sat down yesterday was, "Listen guys, not one time did I ever say I would sit out. And not one time did I ever say I did not want to be a 49er or be part of Jimmy Raye’s offense.’"
On the logic for holding out this long:
"It is hard for me to really know. I would love to find out when it is said and done. We came out of the gate and put a good offer on the table. They even said that, for the 10th pick that is a solid offer out of the gate. It is a funny part of the business, it is a part I don’t like. First of all, you are paying an unproven commodity when you have players out there who are producing that you have not taken care of yet. Also again, it is a part of the business. You can’t make it personal and you can’t panic and make you be nervous about, ‘Listen, we have to get it done. We have to have him here.’ Because the one thing that coach has stated, which I agree with, is it’s not about one individual, it’s about 53. But, also, he is the 10th pick in the draft and there is a reason why we took him there because we think he is a highly-talented football player who has a great upside for us. You would like to have him on the field from Day 1 of training camp because it gives him the opportunity to have a productive rookie year. It was not happening that way. Eventually, I am sure it will come out. I am curious to find out because it goes against the norm. Very seldom do you see this now. We’ll see what goes on in the future with the CBA, but it’s a tough part, but it’s a part you have to deal with."
On whether he thinks other teams than the New York Jets tampered with Crabtree:
"I’m not going getting into that. We have filed the charges. They are in the league’s hands now. I’m just happy that we finally got this done."
On the timeline from the Sunday night phone call to signing Crabtree:
"Well again, we heard that they were coming into town. Even the next morning, we didn’t have a time set up for a sit-down yet. I felt like they were in town so we could sit down. It did not mean that they wanted to get something done, or if they thought we might change our offer. But as we got going yesterday morning and figuring stuff out, we ended up meeting at noon and went through until 4:00 this morning."
On MC Hammer’s role in the process:
"He’s a mutual acquaintance. He knows Eugene and Deion. The first time I knew that he had any association with him anymore was at Eddie DeBartolo Jr.’s reception. He was there and said, ‘Oh yeah, I know him.’ I’m like, ‘interesting.’"
On whether Hammer brokered the deal:
"No. It was Eugene and Paraag that got it."
On whether there was any point that he was walking away from this:
"No. But, again, I was never going to panic. Worst-case scenario is we go all the way through it. He goes back in next year’s draft. We get no compensation for it. I was willing to accept that and not let it affect this team – not just this year, but for the future as well. You could always say you could trade him later or whatever. We didn’t want it to come to this, but we were never going to panic. Again, it’s not going to be about the one individual. We have to keep getting better and keep getting better. For me to sit up here and say that I would have been okay with Michael Crabtree not be on this team ever after taking him at the 10th pick is a little bit ludicrous, but there’s some truth to it. We’re not going to make this about the individual. We’re going to make this about the team. I think that right now, with the way we’re built and the way we’re going forward, that is going to make us more successful."
Post-Walk Thru, October 7, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
On his reaction to WR Michael Crabtree signing:
"People are happy that all of that is done and that we can move forward. I’m sure that he’s excited all the same."
On whether the whole situation has been a distraction to the team since he arrived:
"No, there are things like that every week in the NFL, guys come in, rosters change from week to week sometimes, but no, it’s not a distraction. We are a very focused team. We’re focused on Atlanta right now and I feel very comfortable. That’s how it will remain."
On whether he talked to Crabtree since he arrived:
"I said ‘hi’ to him out there the first time that I saw him."
On what he expects from Crabtree once he gets up to speed in learning the offense:
"Obviously, he was drafted in the position that he was because he’s a good player. So, I think that as soon as he gets up to speed with everything, he’ll be a good player on this level as well."
On what Crabtree will have to do to earn acceptance within the team since he was absent during training camp:
"Just the same thing that all of us do, and that’s work hard. We put it in out there every week. If he comes in and does the same thing, he will have everyone’s respect. From what I’ve heard of the guy, he’s a hard worker anyways so that shouldn’t be a problem."
On doing anything to help Crabtree get up to speed:
"It’s more up to him than it’s up to me, that’s for sure, for him to get up to speed. I’m focused on Atlanta and the guys that we’re going to have playing in that game. Next week is a bye week, maybe things might be different then, but this week we’re focused on Atlanta and the guys that are going to be out on that field on Sunday."
On the team finally being able to move forward with Crabtree now onboard:
"Yes, I think that it will be good for everybody to move forward. I know personally that I won’t have to answer so many questions about it in the future and we can move forward."
On what he thinks will be the hardest thing for Crabtree to catch up with:
"There’s an adjustment period for any rookie coming into the NFL – the speed, obviously, this is a new system as well. But both of those aspects will take time as well. Like I said, if he comes in and works as hard as he can, just like the rest of us do, he’ll be fine."
On whether or not a wide receiver can flourish in this kind offense:
"Yes. It just depends on the play and circumstances. Yeah, there’s plenty of opportunities for wide receivers to make plays in this offense."
On whether or not he has any say as to when Crabtree will be ready to play:
"Yes. I can have an open conversation with [head] coach [Mike] Singletary about any of that stuff if I feel like it. Like I said, it’s not a conscious effort on my part right now. We’re getting ready for Atlanta and the guys that we have that are going to be playing in that game. If he catches my eye later on, then I’ll certainly stand up and say something."