Easily the biggest story of the 49ers "Camp Alex" minicamp is Michael Crabtree. First he wasn't showing up for workouts, but then he arrived on day one and indicated he'd been working out in the Bay Area on his own for the last couple months. Then after Alex Smith appeared to express some frustration about why Crabtree wasn't with the group in recent weeks, Crabtree made some comments about not knowing the 49ers starting quarterback was going to be.
All in all, things have gotten a bit out of hand. While I do think this story is relatively overblown, I also think there is something there given the comments that have gone back and forth. I don't think Crabtree is as bad as some would make him out to be, but he also doesn't get a free ride on this.
Rather than focus on the problems, let's focus on solutions. The easiest solution is probably winning and getting Crabtree prominently involved in the offense. I'd be a fan of this solution and I'd imagine most if not all of you would as well. There's no elixir for locker room discord than winning.
The other solution I have been thinking about is bringing in some kind of veteran wide receiver. I don't know if Crabtree is the type of personality that would work well with a mentor, but it might be possible. Vincent will be putting together some looks at free agency so we'll have plenty of time in the coming weeks to discuss free agent wide receivers. In the meantime, beyond just a depth issue, could a veteran wide receiver help the 49ers get Crabtree on track with the team? Or is he sufficiently on track and it really doesn't matter?
I view this whole thing as an incredibly difficult situation to figure out because I really don't fully understand it. We hear a variety of comments that on their own could actually bear a certain level of truth. The context of the lockout affecting individual workouts is something to consider in all of this. At this point, one reason I want the lockout to end before training camp is to see if we get a full preseason out of Michael Crabtree.
While it might just be making excuses to point to various circumstances that have arisen in Crabtree's two seasons, it really has been a bizarre run for the franchise as a whole. Is it possible that once the lockout ends and Jim Harbaugh and company can work with Crabtree and the others on a normal basis, maybe then this whole mess can be figured out?
At the end of the day, I'm an optimist when it comes to Michael Crabtree. I think he's flashed some amazing skills albeit with some level of inconsistency. I do see why people get a little frustrated with Crabtree, but I guess I'm just willing to wait it out and see if things straighten out in the fall. It's entirely possible they won't and this will all end up one big disaster. Consider me hopeful that is not actually the case.