This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but there’s some weird s— going on in San Francisco.
See, Alex Smith has taken the reins of the 49ers’ player-organized workouts. But Smith isn’t under contract and his future with the team is considered to be very much up in the air. As ESPN’s Ross Tucker pointed out this morning on Twitter, Smith’s heavy involvement with offseason practices in San Fran could make for an interesting dynamic if and when free agency actually takes place.
Smith has a Niners playbook and has obviously been working closely with plenty of Niners players. But with the coaches not involved and the start of the season still (at least) three months away, I wouldn’t expect the Cardinals, Rams or Seahawks to gain a significant advantage by signing Smith later this summer.
That doesn’t mean the situation isn’t awkward. And making it awkwarder is Michael Crabtree, the team’s most treasured offensive player but also its biggest lightning rod.
Crabtree has already taken some heat for not being at previous informal workouts, which is probably unfair considering how many other star players have stayed away from the similar practices across the country. But he didn’t help ease his reputation as a nuisance by subtly running his mouth in a conversation with Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee:
Asked if he thought those sessions are valuable for building chemistry between receiver and quarterback, Crabtree replied, “Who’s the quarterback?”
When told it was Smith, Crabtree responded: “He’s the quarterback? I’m just asking.”
Although the former No. 10 overall pick did say that he’d fully support whoever is eventually named the starting pivot, the damage was done with that curious exchange.
Smith did his best to keep these practices quiet, which is understandable considering Crabtree’s penchant for saying and doing stupid things.
This has to be extremely frustrating for the 49ers’ new coaching regime and the front office in general. They have a young team riddled with question marks, and there are potential PR missteps around every corner, but they can’t do anything to prevent a train wreck that, at this point, seems inevitable.