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Raiders' selection of Heyward-Bey paved way for Niners to draft Crabtree


SANTA CLARA ? The 49ers? day began with the orchestrated unveiling of new uniforms that closely resemble the threads the team wore back in the team?s glory years of the 1980s.

But the big news happened two hours later when the 49ers chose a self-described clotheshorse to fashion the new/old look.

The discussion within the draft room never reached the serious stages because the 49ers did not think it was realistic that Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree would still be around when the 49ers went on the clock with the No. 10 overall pick.

?It was one of the last scenarios that we would end up with,? 49ers coach Mike Singletary said Saturday after the club added perhaps the highest-profile player in the draft.

But the Raiders surprisingly selected Maryland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh selection. Jacksonville and Green Bay followed with the choices of tackle Eugene Monroe and defensive tackle B.J. Raji, respectively.

Then, there was not much that the 49ers needed to discuss before claiming Crabtree.

?We got the best receiver in the draft, hands down,? 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan said.

The 49ers dealt away their picks in the second (No. 43) and fourth rounds (No. 111) to the Carolina Panthers for a first-round selection in the 2010 draft. The 49ers have six picks remaining today in the final five rounds of today?s draft.

But even with just that one selection on Saturday, this day was considered ? at least for a while ? a grand success.

Since Terrell Owens left the organization after the 2003 season, the 49ers have not had a wide receiver with more than 61 receptions in a single season. Now, they are getting the most prolific two-year receiver in the history of college football.

Crabtree caught 231 passes in his two college seasons, and added 41 touchdowns in just 26 games. He was named the winner of the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation?s top receiver both years.

?When we look at the film, we see a guy who has a different speed,? Singletary said. ?I don?t know how fast he is, I just know when he catches the ball, there?s separation there. I know he?s a physical guy and he?s willing to block, so I?m very excited about all of the upside he has.?

From the time Crabtree wrapped up his remarkable two-year career until this point, there arose a variety of questions. First, he underwent surgery March 4 to repair a stress fracture on his left foot, which prevented NFL teams from getting an exact clocking of his time in the 40-yard dash.

McCloughan said he believes Crabtree was not taken within the top nine selections because he was unable to run at the NFL scouting combine or during a pro-day workout leading up to the draft. There have been questions about his speed.

?I happen to have coached the leading receiver in the NFL for the past two years, and suffice it to say that Michael Crabtree is faster than he is,? Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said, referring to Wes Welker, who has 223 receptions the past two seasons for the New England Patriots.

?That?s what receivers do, run fast and catch passes and don?t get caught,? Crabtree said. ?I feel like I?ve never been caught from behind, and I?d like to keep it that way.?

Crabtree is not expected to do any work next week when he reports for his first 49ers minicamp. The 49ers medical staff performed a thorough physical examination of Crabtree when he visited the team three weeks ago. Singletary said there are no concerns. He expects Crabtree to be 100 percent and ready to compete for a starting job when training camp opens in July.

In addition to questions about his speed, Crabtree was also the subject of reports that his ?diva-like? attitude that turned off some teams. Reportedly, Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini soured on Crabtree during a recent visit.

When asked if he was a diva, Crabtree answered, ?No, I?m nowhere near. You know how people like to put receivers in that category? Tell you the truth, everybody is different.?

Leach gave an impassioned endorsement of Crabtree?s character.

?Anybody who refers to him as a diva doesn?t know him very well,? Leach said. ?My definition of a diva is somebody that?s loud and self-absorbed. Michael Crabtree?s the furthest thing from loud that I?ve ever seen.

?I really think he?s a good player and people don?t realize the depth and commitment that he has. I can?t say enough positive about him.?

Singletary said the 49ers did extensive background checks on Crabtree and came away confident with the kind of person they are acquiring.

?You make several phone calls and do the homework and come away feeling good about his character and who he is and knowing he?s one of those guys who really has an opportunity to be special,? Singletary said. ?It?s very exciting for us.?

Singletary said he was taken aback when he met with Crabtree recently. He asked Crabtree about any hobbies, and Crabtree responded that he has a passion for fashion.

?And I?m looking at him, so I said, ?Wait a minute, hold on. Fashion? How can this . . . what do you mean fashion?? Singletary said. ?He kind of broke it down a little bit. But he?s really into clothes.?

The 49ers? return to their cherry-red jerseys of yesteryear is bound to be a popular move with Crabtree.

?I?ve always been interested in fashion,? he said. ?I feel like if I look good, I play good ? on and off the field.?

For more on the 49ers, go to Instant 49ers at http://blog.pressdemocrat.com/49ers. You can reach Staff Writer Matt Maiocco at 521-5492 or matt.maiocco@pressdemocrat.com.