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Thursday, September 15, 2011
Michael Crabtree doesn't share Dez's mentor

By Calvin Watkins

IRVING, Texas -- There was a moment during a Michael Crabtree conference call on Wednesday afternoon that caught some reporters off guard.

Crabtree, a Dallas kid who is playing for the San Francisco 49ers, was asked about Dez Bryant, the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver.

The two teams meet on Sunday.

Crabtree expressed love for Bryant and says they talk from time to time. Bryant nodded when asked about his fondness for Crabtree.

But when another question was asked about David Wells, a bail bondsman who has mentored both men, and his role in forging the relationship between the players, this was Crabtree's answer:

“He didn’t help at all. That’s my homey. I don’t too much talk about Dave. He’s not a part of my life. It is what it is. That’s my homey and I’m going to keep it like that.”

While it’s true, Crabtree and Bryant became homeys when the two met on the awards circuit while they were in college, it’s surprising that Wells is out of the picture.

“It’s cool,” Wells said. “He’s out there in San Francisco and I’m here in Dallas.”

It was interesting to hear this because Wells and Crabtree are cousins. (This is not to say cousins can’t get along, though I love mine.) When Crabtree was coming out for the draft in 2009, there were stories about how much of a diva he was.

Wells defended Crabtree.

There was some incident at the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn., where Crabtree showed up with a posse and acted as if he held the all-time touchdown record in the NFL.

Wells said it wasn’t true.

But all these things kept coming out about Crabtree, and yet Wells stood by him. In fact, when Crabtree’s name kept going down the draft boards because many thought his foot injury and potential for a holdout were hurting him, Wells was sitting with him in New York at the draft.

The two hugged when the 49ers drafted him 10th overall in the first round. But the talk about whether Crabtree could be difficult didn’t end after the draft. Crabtree didn’t sign a contract quickly, coming to terms in October 2009.

It was confirmation for NFL teams explaining why they needed to stay away from Crabtree. But Crabtree wanted to be paid like a Top 5 pick, which was his right.

In three seasons, Crabtree hasn’t really developed into the player many thought he would be. He’s got 104 catches for 1,370 yards and eight touchdowns. You can say the 49ers are a run-oriented team, thanks to Frank Gore, or you could say the quarterback problems, Alex Smith is running things now, is a reason for Crabtree’s problems.

Crabtree’s health is still an issue. He dealt with a bad foot coming out of Texas Tech and he recently needed an X-ray on his foot following the 49ers' victory over the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday.

"I have been injured in college," Crabtree said. "It’s something you have to deal with. Whatever it is, it is what it is. I just try to have fun out there, think about the good times."

And while Crabtree is no longer associating with Wells, Bryant is.

For how long?

Wells, like he’s done with Crabtree, has defended Bryant in public for any transgressions, and will get on him in private for mistakes.

Crabtree has ventured on without using Wells as a mentor, and maybe one day Bryant might be without one too.