Ray Ratto

Is Crabtree a diva, or demanding?


Is Crabtree a diva, or demanding?

Michael Crabtree chose an odd time to complain about use -- the moments after the frustrating end to a successful season.

But this wasnt a diva moment, not really. Just a mistaken one.

First, the word from Crabtree via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee: "Sometimes, you've just got to move the ball. You've got to make plays. You've got to give people chances to make plays. You've got to make plays."

Crabtrees point: An offense that gets one catch from its wide receivers is half an offense, which is true. An offense that targets its wide receivers only nine times is kind of asking for it, which is also true. And finally, an offense that drafted a wide receiver 10th and still hasnt quite figured out how to use him may have wasted a pick. Which may very well be true.

But the problem here is that he picked the wrong team to make that point. He is asking for Alex Smith and Jim Harbaugh to treat him like Calvin Johnson, or to pick a fresher wound, Victor Cruz, when there is no evidence or even a generous projection that would ever put him in that class.

Crabtree is not a receiver of remarkable size and strength, and does not seem to be a deep threat. Hes not a guy you throw to and say, Its off line, but you can get it. Youre you.

Second, while he was targeted five times Sunday, he only really looked like a threat to break open a big gain once, when Smith, under some pressure, chose instead to look for Frank Gore on a pass that was ultimately tipped at the line.

Thats the other problem -- being open isnt the end of the process. Its being open when your quarterback has the time to find you, even if it takes finding you a second time. Its not an easy process, unless you are a quarterback with enough arm and enough receiver to make him a first read.

And there is yet a third -- the matter of whether Crabtree was open often enough for Smith not to lose confidence in his ability to separate from the Giant defenders. That much is unknowable, but it is a factor in any quarterback-receiver relationship.

But most salient of all, he is not on a team whose quarterback has that sort of freedom, even if Crabtree were the Stealth Megatron.

The 49ers built themselves on defense, special teams, and an offense that doesnt needlessly risk turnovers. Smith has been asked to be that quarterback before, albeit under other coaches and offensive coordinators, and has failed at it.

Maybe this is the transition year, to rebuild him as a quarterback so that he can be asked to be that guy again. But he is not that yet, and certainly wasnt in this, his renaissance year. He was what he was asked to be, and he succeeded at it.

If Harbaugh wants Smith to be a different quarterback in 2012, he will have to provide a more prominent receiving threat. Crabtree thinks that is him, and that is perfectly reasonable for him to believe it.

But he will not be Calvin Johnson or Victor Cruz. He will be, at least in San Francisco, a wideout who needs to get more noticeably open more often. He will have to make himself the player he already believes himself to be, a frustrating admission for any player, and he will have convince people who had success doing something one way to change it to accommodate his talents, an even more maddening process.

But thats the deal, take it because youre not contractually capable of leaving it. Michael Crabtree may have a point, but its on him too to drive it home. He has to make himself indispensable, and so few receivers ever get the chance, let alone seize it.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”