You didn’t really expect Michael Crabtree to get all misty about leaving the San Francisco 49ers after six years to head up I-880 for the Oakland Raiders and a one-year, $3.2 million incentive-filled free-agent contract now, did you?
Crabtree never was the game-changing wideout for the Niners that so many expected him to become after they took him with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft out of Texas Tech. Injuries to his feet and Achilles might have played a role in robbing him of his explosiveness, even as he caught 347 passes for 4,327 yards and 26 touchdowns for the 49ers in six seasons.
Yet Niners general manager Trent Baalke said at last month’s NFL owners meetings that Crabtree was not completely off the table even if it seemed that ship had sailed long ago.
Maybe that’s why Crabtree’s answer to a reporter’s question on Thursday at the Raiders’ minicamp on if it felt weird being in the East Bay rang with so much truth, even if it seemed hollow.
“No, not at all,” Crabtree said. “It feels a little funny but not weird.”
Then what has he brought from Santa Clara to Oakland?
“Experience,” he said. “I bring a lot -- style, friendship. I bring a lot. It’s going to be fun.”
With the Niners, Crabtree was far from the most loquacious player in that locker room unless he was upset or felt he was being misused. Such was the case after the Niners’ win at the New Orleans Saints last season, when his 51-yard reception on a 4th-and-10 play late in the game kept the Niners’ season alive.
But instead of enjoying the moment, Crabtree talked about feeling disrespected, calling himself a third-down receiver, a fourth option, to reporters immediately after the Niners’ overtime victory.
So there were questions about his attitude with the 49ers, no?
“That’s just talk,” he said. “I don’t worry about talk. Some people say a lot of things, but until you get to know people, then you’ll know for yourself. It’s just talk.”
Which is something he only did with his fellow 49ers, apparently.
“No, I was friends with my teammates,” Crabtree said, when asked if he was friends with any Raiders players before signing with Oakland. “It’s kind of hard to be friends with somebody you don’t know.
“But now we can be friends.”
Stay tuned on whether Niners fans feel the same. How different would the feelings be had Crabtree been able to come down with one of the three end-zone passes thrown his way by Colin Kaepernick at the end of Super Bowl XLVII, though?