PALO ALTO — Unsigned draft pick Michael Crabtree showed the kind of elusiveness Tuesday in escaping questions from two reporters that the 49ers hope he will soon exhibit on the playing field.
Crabtree and his agent, Eugene Parker, met with team officials to discuss a contract for the first time since the 49ers used their first-round pick to select the former Texas Tech star wide receiver.
Team president Jed York, general manager Scot McCloughan and chief negotiator Paraag Marathe represented the 49ers in the meeting, which took place at a luxury hotel.
The sides did not reach a contract agreement as of late Tuesday night, according to sources. But Marathe and Parker are expected to continue their negotiations this morning. The contract impasse today reaches its 72nd day.
One of the issues might be the level of escalators and incentives that could increase the value of Crabtree's contract. In Jimmy Raye's 12 years as an offensive coordinator with six different NFL teams, his offenses have produced only four wide receivers with 60 or more receptions in a season.
Still, the face-to-face meeting is the first sign Crabtree is serious about playing for the 49ers, who lead the NFC West with a 3-1 record. Crabtree arrived in the Bay Area on Monday after spending the past couple weeks working out in the Tampa, Fla., area.
Crabtree attended several hours of the meeting in a hotel suite, which was reserved Monday morning, according to a hotel worker.
Sources identified recording artist MC Hammer as the person who helped Crabtree meander through a restaurant and then trot approximately 50 yards to where a black SUV was waiting to take him away at 4 p.m. Hammer, a long-time friend of Parker's, has no role in the negotiations.
York also took an escape route to avoid speaking to the media when he left the meeting about three hours earlier.
At least the sides are talking to each other, and that's a new twist in the saga that has been in a virtual holding pattern for months.
In late June the 49ers submitted a contract proposal of $20 million minimum over five years with $16 million in guaranteed money. Crabtree was the No. 10 overall pick, but he reportedly felt he should be paid like the first receiver taken in the draft. The Raiders awarded seventh pick Darrius Heyward-Bey with a five-year, $38.25 million contract with $23.5 million guaranteed.
Crabtree has missed all four 49ers exhibition games and the first four regular-season games. He did not practice during the team's offseason program in May and June as he recovered from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot.
The 49ers remain eager to get Crabtree under contract to help a passing game that lacks a true No. 1 receiver. But team sources say the club is not going to pay Crabtree more than the five-year, $22.5 million base amount defensive tackle B.J. Raji, the No. 9 overall pick, received from the Green Bay Packers.
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