Now we might have the reason.
The New York Daily News is reporting the 49ers have filed tampering charges against the New York Jets with regards to negotiations with Michael Crabtree. No details of the charges are public, and the 49ers are neither confirming or denying that they have filed anything.
But the allegation would confirm reports, including Deion Sanders' surprising scoop on the NFL Network, that one or more other NFL teams have let Crabtree and his agent know that they'd be willing to pay him more than what the 49ers are offering. "There have been two teams that have contacted the San Francisco 49ers desiring a trade and will pay this kid," Sanders said. "And he knows that."
If "this kid" indeed "knows that", then that may be central to the 49ers' accusation. If a team other than the 49ers communicated an offer to Crabtree while he was property of the 49ers, that would constitute illegal contact and tampering.
"Why would you settle for $20 (million) when you feel like you can get $40 (million)?," Sanders asked rhetorically on that NFL Network segment.
Perhaps not coincidentally, that $40 million figure popped up again in this weekend's edition of Jay Glazer's Sunday Scoopage on FOX Sports. "Crabtree's camp believes if he stays put and goes back into next year's draft, he can get a team to give him a deal with approximately $40 million in guaranteed money," Glazer wrote.
Why are these two independent reports both referencing offers of $40 million? Where'd that come from? The 49ers think they know, and that's where the story about filing charges against the Jets comes in.
Jets' coach Rex Ryan responded to the tampering charges today on ESPN's Mike & Mike, in a segment available online. Ironically, the segment was sponsored by Subway, whom Crabtree is endorsing to make ends meet during his holdout.
When asked for his reaction to the allegations, Ryan said, "Yeah I got a reaction, but we'll let the NFL figure that one out. I think it's ridiculous, personally."
"I wish we were playing them," he added.
Actually, Coach Ryan, the 49ers think you have been playing them, and playing them right out of their first-round draft pick.
49er-great Jerry Rice questions what kind of impact Crabtree could have this season, even if he does show up to play.
"It's just unfortunate," Rice said on the field at Candlestick Park before Sunday's Seahawks-49ers game. "And it doesn't look like they're getting anywhere close to coming to an agreement. This guy's way behind, way behind. I'm talking the speed of the game, everything. If they brought him in right now, I don't think he's going to be ready to play."
49ers team president Jed York has said he recently tried to schedule a face-to-face meeting with Crabtree and his representative, Eugene Parker, but hadn't heard back.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who has personally boycotted Subway throughout Michael Crabtree's holdout.