I think Michael Crabtree might be the most frustrating player on the 49ers. I'm saying this with some confidence, too, but hedging my bets with non-committals like "think" and "might." That's how serious I kind of am.
Now, don't get me wrong. There are some serious contenders on this team: Alex Smith comes to mind immediately. But Smith is like all in your face about how annoying he is. Number one pick in the draft? Yup. Plays the premier position on the field? Yup. Follows the team around for, like, three more years than you want him to, saying all the right things to the media so that you kind of have to like him but then just continues to roll right and throw at the feet of his receiver? I guess that could get annoying. See what I mean? All up in your face like that stupid Noober in Nashkel from Baldur's Gate.
Crabtree, rather, is like somebody watching you while you sleep. You can totally tell that they are there. Maybe they are breathing heavy or smell bad or are making small little metallic sounds as they sharpen a knife. I don't know, but you can tell even while subconscious and it really sucks. But that's the thing - it sucks because it is sneaky and subtle.
Follow me after the jump for my argument regarding Crabtree and how frustrating he is.
The thing about Crabtree is that it is so clear that he is overflowing with all sorts of potential. He is one of those guys who has elusive speed; he may not go from Point A to Point B as fast as others, but when running routes or with the ball in hand, he has the sort of speed that just makes everybody around him look slow. Speaking of his routes, I think they are pretty good. He has trouble with deep routes, but I don't think that is a result of his route-running abilities, but rather his size.
But, his hands, man. That's his number one weapon right there. His hands scare the Soviets, and nukes didn't even scare them (the Soviets, of course, root for the Cowboys). This is why he has so much potential. Watching Crabtree catch a football is like watching water run over a cliff. Waterfalls have a sort of natural beauty, especially since gravity makes the water descend so smoothly but forcefully. When Crabtree has to go up in the air for a late or early ball, his hands fly up and meet the ball with the supposed force of a planet's gravitational pull. Then the ball just seems to stick to his hands and he pulls the baby in. It really is magnificent.
Again, this is why he has so much potential. His only real weakness is his smaller size, and I think that modern NFL offenses are adapting to make this less of a problem (DeSean Jackson is the poster boy of this scenario). But when all is said and done, Crabtree could be something special. Not many receivers can come from a holdout and play the way he did in his NFL debut midway through the season. Watching that game, I was absolutely giddy. Giddy like a school girl. I thought this was the reincarnation of Jerry Rice, and he ain't even dead.
Now, clearly, my giddiness led me astray. Rice is the GOAT. End of story. But, I still don't think the giddiness was unwarranted, nor do I think so now. And this is why he is the most frustrating player on the Niners. He is easy to dislike. Not for that whole hooey with the media; I couldn't care less if he is a shy guy. What-evah. Rather, because I'm supposed to believe and I do believe that he has a poor work ethic.
I mean, he doesn't. Clearly. All of his teammates say that he is a workaholic. His ability to step in midseason from a lockout and produce shows that he is a workaholic. I know that he works hard. My brain understands this.
But in my precious heart of hearts, I don't believe that he does. I see a tweet or read an article, and my aorta is all of a sudden like, "woah, Right Atrium, bro. Crabtree doesn't work hard because somebody slightly hinted at it to Barrows, who didn't even say anything definitive about it." Then, my right atrium turns to my right ventricle and says, "hot diggity donuts and dill weed, did you hear that? He did skip preseason because he wanted to make more money and because he as a lingering foot injury since his college days..." So in my heart, I don't believe it.
And before somebody in the comments howls at the moon about how I have all fluff and no substance in my articles, look at what the above paragraph did. I took actual statements and reasoning people have presented for why we should actually trade one of our most talented players and put them in a ridiculous context to show how ridiculous they are without having to comment on their ridiculousness. It's not fluff. It's satire. Look it up.
And this above paragraph isn't just self-aggrandizement (though it did feel good to write), but rather an open admission of how ridiculous I can be. I love to beat up on Crabtree and his work ethic. My dad and I will sometimes go tit-for-tat with snide Crabtree remarks. It's awesome because it's fun and easy. It is so so so so easy to just decide that Crabtree has a bad work ethic. It's so easy, it really is a guilty pleasure.
But when I had to sit down and write a rationally sound argument, I realized that injuries happen (e.g. Your 2011 San Francisco Giants). And even worse, lingering injuries happen. Foot injuries can be really bad and there is no way that I want the team's number one receiver to be limited in reaching his immense potential because he abuses an injury. If he has a broken foot, then let him take his time. And trust me, if it ever comes out that he has been faking it just so that he could breeze through training camps and preseasons, I will be the first to grab my torch and pitchfork. Somebody else grab the rotten tomatoes, though, they stink.
One last comment: can we stop referring to Crabtree as "craptree?" It's not cute anymore. Same goes for "Alice Smith."