US Presswire file photoThe 49ers’ Michael Crabtree has developed a reputation as a diva receiver and has yet to live up to the hype of being the No. 10 overall pick in 2009.

US Presswire file photoThe 49ers’ Michael Crabtree has developed a reputation as a diva receiver and has yet to live up to the hype of being the No. 10 overall pick in 2009.

Michael Crabtree down to last chance at the SF 49ers

It’s put up or shut up time for the Niners’ Michael Crabtree, whose 12-touchdown output in three seasons since being drafted 10th overall in 2009 represents significant underachievement, yet he was handed the starting job opposite Randy Moss for today’s opener at Green Bay.

Why was Crabtree given the start over Mario Manningham, who has 18 TDs in 3½ seasons and a far more favorable reputation as a teammate and worker?

No clue, but coach Jim Harbaugh says Crabtree has the best hands he’s ever seen, and the level of ridiculousness associated with such a statement suggests that there are mind games being played, and mind games suggest desperation.

The Niners, quite simply, are at a crossroads with Crabtree.

He’s acted like a first-round diva receiver, most notably mocking Alex Smith’s status as the team’s quarterback during last year’s lockout. What self-respecting diva wideout hasn’t called out his QB, right?

Yet acting like a first-round diva receiver typically doesn’t go over very well unless one plays like a first-rounder, and Crabtree hasn’t played like one. Not by a mile.

Ergo, exasperation. Desperation. Mind games.

Harbaugh loves mind games, and he fancies himself a master of manipulation. And what he appears to be doing in regard to Crabtree is playing to No. 15’s outsized ego.

Harbaugh is betting that by telling everyone, including Crabtree, how special Crabtree is, it will force upon the 24-year-old from Texas Tech a sense of obligation to live up to such high praise.

Best hands Harbaugh’s ever seen? Harbaugh was an assistant coach on a Raiders team that included Jerry Rice and Tim Brown. He was a teammate of Marvin Harrison in Indy. Last year alone, he coached against Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson.

Crabtree has those guys beat? Please. Granted, Harbaugh is good for a comical overestimate of his players every other day, but this one went over the top.

But let’s say Crabtree does have all-time hands. Does he have an all-time work ethic? Does he have the all-time ability to get open? We sure haven’t seen it yet, and nothing indicates we’ll see it this season.

Manningham and Moss have proven themselves as pros. Crabtree has proven only that he can disappear in a sold-out stadium.

HEAD SCRATCHERS: The A’s have gotten a ton of attention this season for turning conventional wisdom on its ass, surprising the baseball world by forging a wildly entertaining and successful season in the wake of preseason predictions that hovered in the 100-loss range.

The Giants, on the other hand, were expected to challenge for a playoff spot, and they are.

But given what they’ve been through and who they are, they qualify as something of a surprise team, too.

They have a rotation that’s been better in name value than actual performance for quite some time now, struggling as frequently as shining. Their offense, never all that impressive, lost its most prolific hitter for the season as the stretch drive kicked into overdrive. They are without a closer.

And yet despite all that, as well as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ seemingly endless string of high-profile acquisitions, the Giants have been the class of the National League West for some time.

None of it makes any sense, and that’s what makes baseball so great. Just when you think you have a clue as to how it’s all supposed to work, you realize you don’t.

The A’s have been supremely compelling for all kinds of reasons, but it doesn’t take more than a cursory look at the storylines to see that in terms of drama, the Giants have been right there with them, every step of the way.

SPEED ROUND: If you dig Bay Area sports in general, you have to be pulling for the Raiders to put on a good show Monday night. It’s a great opportunity to show the world that yes, it really is a brand new day for the Silver and Black. … Congrats to Don Nelson for his enshrinement in the basketball Hall of Fame. Anyone pointing frantically to the fact that he never won a title as a coach doesn’t get the big picture. He won plenty as a player, and as a coach he was nothing short of a visionary. … It’s sad that Andy Roddick is viewed in so many circles as a failure. Without him, American tennis would have been a worldwide joke for the past decade.

Mychael Urban, host of Inside The Bigs (9 a.m. to noon Saturdays) on 95.7 FM The Game, can be followed on Twitter @BigUrbSports. His website is UrbsUnchained.com.

49ersOther Sportssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Police Chief Bill Scott on Wednesday said a rebranding and reoganization of the former Gang Task Force amounts to “more than just the name change.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Faced with surge in shootings, Chief Scott reenvisions SFPD’s Gang Task Force

New Community Violence Reduction Team adds officers with community-policing experience

Stores including Walgreens and Safeway are required to pay their employees additional hazard pay under a city ordinance that is currently set to expire later this month. (Shutterstock)
Grocery workers could gain additional weeks of $5 per hour hazard pay

San Francisco will vote next week on whether to extend a law… Continue reading

The fatal shooting of San Francisco resident Roger Allen by Daly City police on April 7 prompted protests in both cities. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Daly City approves body-worn and vehicle cameras for police after fatal shooting

Daly City officials on Wednesday approved body and vehicle cameras for police… Continue reading

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

Most Read