October 21, 2009
Michael Crabtree(notes), the 49ers rookie wide receiver who held out through training camp, preseason and the first month of the regular season, is being handed a starting job this Sunday against the Texans. Said head coach Mike Singletary:
"I don't think that it's going to be too big for him," Singletary said. "To me, even though he's come in late, he looks like he's ready."
To accommodate Crabtree, Josh Morgan(notes), who sweated through two-a-days, training camp, preseason and the first month of the regular season, is being fed some bench. His starting job is now Crabtree's, even though Morgan's been the one helping him get up to speed in the 49ers offense.
I'm not rallying for Morgan, offering him sympathy or implying that any of this is unfair. It's just the way things go. The NFL is a show-me business. Morgan hasn't met expectations, so a more talented guy -- even if that guy hasn't been a model citizen so far in his extremely young career -- takes his spot.
So what can we expect from the first game of the Crabtree era?
Well, production, for one thing. If coach Singletary is high enough on Crabtree this early, I don't think there's any question that they're expecting him to produce right this second. In fact, it's probably fair to say that they're expecting him to immediately become the top-producing wide receiver drafted in the top 10 of this year's draft. Of course, he only needs to top two receptions and 36 yards to snatch that honor from the not-at-all prolific Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes). That might take him about a half.
What else can we expect? Some boos, probably, from fans who didn't appreciate his holdout, and I'd expect that anger will last right up until about the first time he makes a catch. One touchdown, one big catch, one tiny little contribution, and all will be forgiven. That's the way it goes with holdouts. They're easily forgotten, if they're followed by production.
It definitely adds a little interest to the 49ers/Texans game this weekend. If it goes like most Texans games have so far, the Texans will put up some points, and it'll be up to the 49ers to score with them. Crabtree could be a factor.
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