The 49ers have a challenge to sign first-round selection Michael Crabtree this week for the beginning of training camp. The organization and Crabtree?s agent, Eugene Parker, are far apart in contract negotiations, league sources told The Press Democrat.
Rookie contracts are generally determined by where a player is selected in the draft. Crabtree, the two-time Biletnikoff Award winner as college football?s best wide receiver, was the No. 10 overall pick.
However, Parker believes Crabtree deserves a greater contract because he should have been chosen sooner, multiple NFL sources said.
ProFootballTalk.com reported Parker has much higher expectations than a contract commensurate with the 10th overall selection under the theory Crabtree should have been a top-five selection.
Crabtree?s draft stock fell in the months after he completed his two-year record-setting career at Texas Tech. He sustained a stress fracture in his left foot, which prevented him from running at the NFL scouting combine. Crabtree underwent surgery in March.
Nine teams passed on Crabtree during the draft, including the Raiders with the No. 7 pick. Instead, Al Davis? team chose Maryland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, making Crabtree the second receiver selected.
Heyward-Bey has yet to sign his contract, either. In fact, quarterbacks Matthew Stafford (Detroit) and Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) are the only players among the first 20 picks in the draft with signed deals.
Crabtree did not take part in any 49ers practice sessions during the offseason but was seen running at three-quarters speed as part of his rehabilitation at the team?s training complex last month. The 49ers expect Crabtree to be physically cleared to practice as soon as he signs his contract. Players are not allowed to participate in training camp without a contract.
The 49ers have succeeded in signing each of six first-round draft choices since 2005 by the opening of training camp.
Crabtree and running back Glen Coffee, a third-round selection, are the only two 49ers rookies who remain unsigned. Coffee is close to signing his four-year contract, and is expected to report to camp on time.
Niners rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans are scheduled to report Tuesday. All other veterans report Thursday. After several days of meetings, the team is scheduled to hold its first practice of training camp Saturday morning.
For more on the 49ers, go to Instant 49ers at http://blog.pressdemocrat.com/49ers. You can reach Staff Writer Matt Maiocco via e-mail at matt.maiocco@press