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Clouds gather between Niners, Crabtree

NFL_crabtree.jpg

We mentioned last night that the guy picked just in front of Bills’ holdout defensive end Aaron Maybin might be hunkering down for a fight with the 49ers.

And we continue to hear, from multiple sources, that receiver Michael Crabtree might not be agreeing to terms at any time soon.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat wrote about the issue today, and we suspect that more and more will be written and said about the looming holdout. (Like Matt, we used to refrain from calling players without contracts “holdouts,” since the term implies that they’re doing something wrong. Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN.com eventually persuaded us that, since they are “holding out” for more than what the team is offering, any guy who is withholding services in search of a new deal is technically a “holdout.”)

Agent Eugene Parker, we’re told, has dusted off the time-honored (but usually unsuccessful) argument that Crabtree is better than his draft position indicates, and that he should be paid accordingly.

Sorry, Gene, but that’s not the way it works. Guys get paid based on where they got drafted, and the process has yet to recognize a “diva premium.”

Indeed, it was both the perception that Crabtree is a high-maintenance pain-in-the-butt (we can still say “ass” despite the NBC thing -- we just chose to go with butt this time) and the ill-timed revelation of a stress fracture in Crabtree’s foot that fueled the slide to No. 10 overall.

It’s possible that Parker believes he can cram his position down the 49ers’ throats, given that the guy calling the shots now, Jed York, isn’t much older than Crabtree. And we suspect that Parker has a separate goal of stretching the windfall nature of the first-round deals, which currently peters out at No. 7 or No. 8, all the way down to No. 10.

Regardless of how it turns out, it’s unlikely the Niners will cave quickly, if ever. And so Crabtree -- who already is behind the curve due to the rehab of his foot injury -- will miss valuable time in training camp, and he won’t nearly be as effective in his rookie season as he otherwise could have been.

Bottom line? Everyone loses in this one.

Except for the other teams in the NFC West -- and the other teams that play San Fran this season.