Though it took a while, the process of signing rookie draft picks has narrowed down to two players.
And as we predicted accurately (for a change) at PFTV in early August, the last two men standing (or, as the case may be, sitting) are 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree and Bengals tackle Andre Smith.
The problem, to date, is that in each case one of the sides refuses to respect the slotting process. Crabtree, the tenth overall pick, wants more than Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey received from the Raiders at No. 7, and the Bengals want to pay Smith, the sixth pick, less than Oakland coughed up at one spot lower.
Smith’s agent, Alvin Keels, has been telling his Twitter followers that he is “brainstorming” for ways to “bridge this gap,” and he has hinted at a face-to-face meeting with Katie Blackburn of the Bengals, who simply doesn’t seem to care about the money the Raiders paid to Heyward-Bey.
For Crabtree, the only window into the player’s thought processes came from his adviser-cousin’s public bluster regarding skipping the season, which agent Eugene Parker then tried to pretend never happened.
The Niners remain unfazed (or at least they’re acting that way). “ I’m not thinking about it a whole lot,” coach Mike Singletary said Friday in comments circulated by the team. “These receivers who are here, they are busting their tails day-in and day-out. Those are the guys we are evaluating. We haven’t allowed anything else to come into the picture where we are thinking, ‘What if this?’ We are just going to continue to move forward.”
And so the impasse will continue to move forward, with no end in sight.