NFL Move Forward on 49ers' Tampering Claim

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The NFL is investigating whether the Jets committed tampering in pursuit of the San Francisco 49ers' Michael Crabtree.

    With his contract holdout now dragging into October and the fourth game of the regular season, Michael Crabtree isn't playing any games for the San Francisco 49ers.

    And the NFL isn't playing any games investigating allegations of shady behavior which may be leading to his continued holdout.

    ProFootballTalk.com is reporting that the league is taking the allegations seriously and moving forward with an investigation into the 49ers' tampering accusations against the New York Jets. The report says that the NFL is putting two unnamed NFL teams' security managers in charge of a full investigation into whether the Jets made back-channel offers or other communications to Michael Crabtree. These security managers' findings could then lead to sanctions against the Jets and possibly repertory compensation to the 49ers.

    There is no indication of which teams' security experts would be appointed to investigate, or of any time line for this investigation.

    Speaking of no time line, other reports from around the league indicate the 49ers' actual negotiations to sign Michael Crabtree have gone completely ice cold. ESPN's resident NFL eyes and ears Adam Schefter tweeted early Thursday morning that  "The 49ers and Michael Crabtree have not spoken -- spoken! -- in over two weeks now."

    Schefter followed that one up minutes later with another ominous tweet, "And now we're into the month of October, with Nov. 17 -- Crabtree's drop-dead date to play this season -- creeping up very quickly."

    That's right. If Michael Crabtree does not sign a 49ers' contract in t-minus 47 days and counting, he will not be allowed to play ever at all in the 2009 NFL season.

    Kevin Lynch looks it all over on his San Francisco Chronicle blog and surmises, "It appears pretty clear that Crabtree will never become a 49er and that the 49ers will be trading his rights come March 1."

    I don't know that this whole Crabtree thing is that far gone yet. But Kevin Lynch is maybe the most-plugged in 49ers beat writer in the Bay Area, and that assessment probably came from his talking to someone with the last name York.

    But this Crabtree folly still has the potential to produce real gold for those Niners. Consider that if the League rules that the Jets did tamper, the 49ers could be awarded extra draft picks in compensation. Good draft picks, none of that conditional seventh-rounder stuff.

    And consider that if Deion Sanders' ill-advised TMI remarks to NFL Network were true, that "there have been two teams that have contacted the San Francisco 49ers desiring a trade and will pay (Crabtree)", then we've got a bidding war. The 49ers could conceivably recoup better value than the tenth overall pick they spent on Crabtree when this saga finishes playing out.

    Who knows? Michael Crabtree could end up sitting out the entire season, and still end up accidentally becoming the most valuable pick from the 2009 Draft.

    Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who thinks the two unnamed teams they have investigating the Jets should be the 49ers and the Patriots.