49ers WR Michael Crabtree will be making his grand debut in a few days as the 49ers battle the Houston Texans. Obviously people are hoping for big things, but there is certainly just as much (if not more) of a chance that he struggles early on. Young wide receivers often take two or three years to reach their potential in the NFL. For every Randy Moss who blows up right away, there have been some pretty hideous receivers out there.
Given the significance of this Sunday's game in terms of Crabtree, I thought it was definitely worth posting Crabtree's post-practice press conference transcript. His answers are pretty short and concise, so it's safe to say Crabtree has learned the art of the non-answer.
Additionally, given his role in the offense, I've also posted Jimmy Raye's transcript. The most useful piece of information, if accurate, was that Crabtree would play approximately half the offensive snaps. Raye made no mention of Josh Morgan's snaps, but he also seemed to indicate no decision has been made yet as to whether Crabtree would be in as the starter. Given Morgan's blocking abilities I'd expect to still see plenty of him. Maybe this means more rushing plays from the 3-receiver set.
Again, we've got Michael Crabtree and Jimmy Raye's post-practice press transcripts after the jump...
WR Michael Crabtree
Post-Walk Thru - October 22, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
On his transition in learning the offense:
"I was just trying to take it slow. I didn't want to just rush into anything. I just come in every day and take it play-by-play at practice."
On his growing knowledge of the playbook:
"I was just reading defenses and trying to run routes against defenses and it kind of helped me out because when you react to plays in practice and everything worked out fine."
On explaining what routes he was running against defenses while out of camp:
"Just in my head and I had friends out there playing Cover 2 and all of that. We were just having fun."
On whether the use of the digit system to runs routes makes it easier for him:
"I don't think that anything is easy. I just think that you've got to watch a lot of film and hopefully I can get it by the time it is game time. "
On his first practice with the team being in the line-up:
"It was my first practice as a 49er in the lineup and it was fun. I tried to take it slow and learn as I go and everything worked out fine."
On his thoughts of finally getting to work together with QB Shaun Hill:
"I was finally here and I'm just trying to do the best that I can on the field. Shaun is a good guy and he helps me every step that I take."
On how prepared he feels to play in his first career NFL game:
"Preparation is a big part of football and what I do as a receiver, I feel that by going hard on Wednesdays and Thursdays, it'll be easier on Sundays."
On, along with preparation, letting his natural abilities take over:
"When you are on the field, its football time. You're a football player, so when those lights come on, it's time to play football."
On whether he feels that it was his destiny to be a starter from day one with the 49ers:
"I feel like I need to be a good teammate and just have fun in my situation right now and that's what we're doing."
On what was he able to accomplish during the bye week while at the facility:
"I was really trying to get as much as I could get in. I was really trying to get that step over everybody. You know that things happen and I was just trying to work hard."
On how much did WR Josh Morgan help him out during his ongoing transition:
"All of the guys help me out every day. If I have any questions. Like I said before, I'm surrounded by good players, good teammates, and I couldn't ask for anything else."
On his possible reaction to playing his first career NFL game in his home state:
"It can be motivation and also, like I said, when you're out on that field, it's just football. So I'm not really too worried about where I'm at or who I'm playing. It's just football."
On whether his family will be in attendance:
"My family will be there. I'm very excited to see those guys. I haven't seen those guys in months."
On how many family members will be at the game:
"I should have around 20 to 30 people there."
On what has been the biggest adjustment for him since he's arrived:
"Just going to the next level. Just those plays and reads - the whole process has been big on me so, like I said, I'm just taking it one step at a time and just trying to get better every day."
On his ability to conceptualize football and to completely understand what he's doing:
"I've been playing football since I was three years old and right now I'm at the highest level. All I have to do is go out there every day and do what I know."
On his biggest fear or concern toward Sunday's game:
"I wouldn't even have any fears or concerns. I would just worry about my play, my teammates, and making sure that we're all up."
On the difference between the spread offense that he learned in college to that of an NFL offense:
"At Texas Tech, we ran straight routes every day, all day. At practice you ran about 60 routes, so when you get here, you have to substitute that with blocking and all of that. So, it's pretty fun and I think that the Tech offense kind of helped me to becoming a full receiver."
On running all kinds of routes as a receiver at Texas Tech:
"All kinds of routes. I had about at least ten different routes that we ran."
On the blocking aspect of being a wide receiver:
"Coach was real hard on us on blocking just like here. They were very hard on us. So, to be a complete player I think that you need to have all of those tools."
On the last time that he got hit on the football field:
"I don't even remember, probably the last game that I played."
On head coach Mike Singletary's comment that he plays bigger than he is:
"I have no idea. I didn't hear him say that so I have no idea on the aspect of what he said. At the same time, coach Singletary is a good coach and he's pushing us every day so I just listen to it, take it as motivation, and go hard every day."
On going through some team hazing and the adjustment that he's gone through:
"Every rookie is going to have to do something. They've been on me everywhere I go like ‘rookie, rookie, rookie.' But at the same time, everybody's trying to help me and we're having fun so it's just the process of an NFL rookie."
On whether or not he's getting more of it because he was late to camp:
"I feel as if it's the same. They're going to do stuff to you every week, every day. You just have to be prepared."
On rating his own singing voice:
"On what I would rate it from of 1 to 10? Probably about a six. In the shower, I'm about a ten"
On possibly being disappointed if he doesn't perform well in his debut:
"I can't be disappointed with anything. I just have to take what they give me and make the most of it."
Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye
Post-Walk Thru - October 22, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
On what changed from WR Michael Crabtree having a special package of plays to potentially seeing more playing time:
"Have you been in my meetings? ... OK. I missed you. You were so assured of what you were saying, it was almost like you've got some inside."
On his comments about Crabtree's playing time:
"OK. I better start reading his transcripts. What's changed, basically, it wasn't a change as much as it was seeing where he was as we got started the week that we were here during the bye and seeing what kind of football legs he had and what kind of understanding he had of what we were doing and taking that and transposing it to how much we could put on his plate. At this time, we really hadn't made any decision, but he has handled the stuff that we've given him pretty well, the nuances of going to play and having the conditioning to play more than what we thought is still up in the air. From where we originally started and what I said early on to you about starting him with a small package and playing 11-personnel package, I think it's easier, or we determined that it was easier, for him to, rather than keep delaying the process, to let him go at X, in terms of practice and see how much he could retain and what kind of physical conditioning he was in and make the decision based on his availability that way."
On whether Crabtree was more familiar with the play calls than expected:
"In terms of the words and the language, pleasingly surprising, yes he was. Now, the practical application of that is a different deal, but at least you had a starting point that was better than what I had anticipated in terms of him understanding the formations and understanding the route tree and the plays and how they fit together. He conceptualizes football extremely well. He's a quick study that way. It's just a matter of him and the total flow of the call and the quarterback having some feeling that he knew what he was doing and we hasten that process a little bit by giving him a little more because he showed that he could handle a little more."
On whether he has made a decision on whether Crabtree will start:
"No, I have not, or we have not. I shouldn't say ‘I.' We have not. I think whether he starts or not, I think we will try to give him as much as his appetite will allow, dealing with the conditions, the heat inside of the building and the conditioning thing. I think a lot of that will have to do with - practice tempo and game tempo will be a little different and the anxiety of starting and all of the issues that go along with that, I think, at this point, he hasn't flinched on anything, but I'm going to gauge that based on the game, the speed of the game and how it starts."
On whether his conditioning will have more of an affect on how Crabtree plays than his knowledge:
"At this point, because I think he's handled the transition from now to where he was is easier because he's only learning the game plan for the game. He's not having to go back. He's not having to retain the entire offensive system. So, if he can learn the game plan, then it's easier than the volume of the offense in this totality that he would have to take on from the beginning. So, the things that he doesn't know, he doesn't know that he doesn't know them. So, it's kind of like you cover the post and you cover the post, but you don't know the guy runs a post-corner. That's OK for now because we're in a game-plan mode, and that's what he needs to have the understanding of."
On how many snaps Crabtree will play:
"I would think he'd play half the time."
On how many plays Crabtree would be responsible for in order to play:
"Well, he would be responsible like any player that goes to the game in the count, in the numbers, he would be responsible for the entire offensive plan, though he doesn't have to know what [WR] Isaac [Bruce] is doing on the other side as much. He's familiar with that, and that's all part of the learning, but he basically knows what he does. So, you've got to take that and measure it against how it fits, how he knows what he does and how it fits in the continuity of what you're trying to do. He doesn't know what [TE] Vernon [Davis] is doing specifically, or what [RB] Frank [Gore] is doing or what Isaac's doing, but he knows what he does. So, if that all meshes and it blends well in the game plan that he understands, then he can play."
On how many plays in the game plan that Crabtree would be responsible for:
"Do you mean pass plays or run plays?"
On the number of pass plays:
"I wouldn't put a number on them, but you've got run-down situation passes, first and second down. Then today you get third-down passes - third, two-to-four, five-to-seven, eight-to-12. Then, tomorrow he'll get red zone passes, French, High, Low, Red. I would think if you took all of those categories, and there are probably three or four passes or pass concepts in each one, you take that and multiply it by whatever it is. I guess it would close somewhere to 45, 50."
On his assessment of how he worked with QB Shaun Hill:
"I thought it was okay. There's a practice tempo at the speed that they were going, that was a little different. I was pleased with that. Now when that revs up to the next level, the familiarity or the lack of familiarity that they have with each other, we'll just have to gauge, but so far the tempo that we've been going, it's been good. We'll see today. There's a little bit more volume today and then tomorrow, as it starts to get out the run down, the situational part of the game, the nuances of what you have to do become a little bit more detailed and that's when the quarterback factors into it more. So, we'll just have to see today and tomorrow. How that goes and my anticipation is based on what he's done to this point, with the two of them, I don't think there will be a fall off. I could get surprised, but I don't think there will be a drop off. He is a natural football player, playing wide receiver. He has an uncanny knack to conceptualize the picture quicker than most young guys, so the words that paint the picture of the play, he gets it pretty quickly so far. So I would anticipate that will continue."
On what the risks of this decision are:
"The obvious risks is that it fails, that he lays an egg, that we lay an egg. But, I'm willing at this point to take that, based on what I've seen. I think the rewards outweigh the risks because if we keep putting it on the back burner and giving three plays or four plays and then a month down the road you are looking at the same situation, what have you done. You haven't accomplished anything. So, I think the rewards outweigh the risks and there will be some glitches, but hopefully no major hiccups and that's kind of how you gauge it."
On how he feels about the changes on the offensive line and whether that will help Shaun take fewer hits:
"If I had a concern outside of the obvious things that you have anxiety over at the start of a game, that would cause more concern than [WR] Michael Crabtree knowing what to do on 525F-Post because that continuity is very delicate and it takes time. We'll watch that very closely, but [G Adam Snyder]'s a veteran player that has played some guard before and all of a sudden he's next to a tackle that hadn't played very much that is two weeks ahead of Michael Crabtree in learning what we're doing. The anxiety there would be, to me, because of the proximity to the quarterback and [RB] Frank [Gore] getting the ball on the outside part of the deal. The anxiety there would be a little more to me, than Michael standing out there against [CB] Dunta Robinson catching a slant."
On how RB Frank Gore looks:
"Yeah, he looks great. He's got fresh legs. How long has it been since he played? A month, three weeks? I mean he's got fresh legs, so he looks bountifully good. With the time off and the bye, he probably feels a little better had he played this month, this past month at this point, so hopefully, we get a fresh guy that's mended and doesn't have the normal aches and pains that you would have as a running back after those five games in the season."
On whether he used the bye week to tweak the offense or refocus what he has been trying to do on offense:
"It was a combination of both. We had to look at what we had done and evaluate that and make some decisions going forward. What part of it was okay and what part of it was good and what the addition of the new personnel and the changes that we were making. All of that had to be taken into consideration as we were looking at what we had done and how people looked at us. More importantly, going forward, that is the biggest thing that we have to overcome, how people are deciding to defend us."