Though, in the end, the hard numbers will tell the whole story, the early talk in league circles is that the extended holdout in which 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree engaged gained nothing for the player.
We’re told that, in the end, the 49ers did the deal now that they would have done in July, if Crabtree and agent Eugene Parker hadn’t been insisting on breaking the slotting process and pocketing a contract similar to if not better than the package signed by receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, the seventh overall selection.
Parker’s strategy, we’re told, was to ignore the 49ers, in the hopes that the team would bid against itself and ultimately cross the boundaries set by the contracts given to the No. 9 and No. 8 overall selections.
The ploy didn’t work. And so, when Crabtree and Parker decided to fly unannounced to the Bay Area on Monday to resume negotiations, Parker was essentially pressing the “play” button following roughly three months of being parked on “pause.”
So, yes, the 49ers made concessions as to the deal that was on the table — just as they would have done if Parker had flown to San Fran in late July with the intention of doing a deal that didn’t blow out the slotting process. And, yes, we fully expect the deal to contain fluff and other stuff aimed at allowing Parker to avoid doing any damage to his recruiting effort for next year’s crop of rookies.
But the bottom line is that Crabtree could have had roughly the same deal in July, and he would have been well on his way to making real contributions as a rookie.
Moving forward, it remains to be seen what he manages to do in his first NFL season. The simple reality, however, is that any blown assignment or pulled hamstring or dropped pass will be followed by a reference to his lengthy holdout, with a question as to whether it played a role.