The San Francisco 49ers do want to re-sign wide receiver Michael Crabtree, but they’ll allow him to hit free agency in order to see just how much interest he gets and what his price tag will turn out to be.
Crabtree has been playing for the 49ers since 2009, drafted in the first round (10th overall) out of Texas Tech. During his time in the bay area, he has been able to put up only one season of over 1000 receiving yards: In 2012, when Colin Kaepernick emerged as the team’s quarterback midway through the season, and combined quite well with Crabtree which helped the team reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years, losing to the Baltimore Ravens.
A year later Crabtree missed most of the season due to an injury, playing in just five games, doing quite well in them and once again helping Kaepernick shine in the playoffs. Like in the loss to the Ravens a year earlier, it was a failed link up between Kaepernick and Crabtree, this time in a loss in the NFC championship game against the Seahawks.
In 2014, Crabtree looked slower than ever, probably a sign of the injury, while also struggling, like the rest of his teammates, in a passing game scheme that simply wouldn’t take off. He played in all 16 games, catching 68 passes for 698 yards and just four touchdowns. Since becoming the team’s number one receiver, it was his worst, least productive season in terms of per game performance.
The 49ers were in no rush to give him a new deal, but are going to try and sign him if he doesn’t get too much interest in the free agency market. He’s likely to have trouble in terms of attracting a lot of suitors considering his injury from 2013 and his production from last season.
Does he go or does he stay? It’s hard to say with the 49ers, who are mostly reworking deals now (Aldon Smith) or cutting players (Steve Johnson) to open up some cap space. Crabtree, making $5.3 million a season on average, is going to have to settle for a lot less. A long term deal for similar money isn’t likely, not with the 49ers, not with anyone else.