Mailbag: Should 49ers trade Crabtree?

Brandon from Winston Salem, N.C., thinks the San Francisco 49ers should consider trading Michael Crabtree after the team's wide receivers failed to produce much during the playoffs. He says Crabtree has questioned Alex Smith's validity as the starter in the past and notes that the current staff would have little invested in Crabtree, anyway.

Mike Sando: Mixed feelings here. Crabtree was the best wide receiver on the team once Josh Morgan suffered a season-ending injury. He was sometimes an outstanding blocker, too. And when the team needed him to make a clutch catch at Seattle in Week 16, Crabtree delivered. Subtracting him from the roster would make the team worse at the position.

But I also sense a disconnect. The trust between Smith and Crabtree doesn't appear to be as strong as it should be. That could be because Crabtree has spent almost no time practicing with the team during minicamps and training camps. That should finally change this offseason. Is now really the time to bail on what could still become a productive relationship? It could be, but ...

The 49ers would not get a great deal in return for Crabtree, in my view. I would recommend trading Crabtree only if the new coaching staff had witnessed things behind the scenes indicating Crabtree was unwilling to buy in or put in the necessary work.

Greg from Seattle thinks Tom Brady was a stretch for inclusion on the Any Era team in part because the league changed rules to protect quarterbacks after Brady suffered a knee injury. He doesn't think Brady would hold up physically the way football was played in previous eras, without all the extra safety measures.

Mike Sando: That's an interesting point. However, Brady won three Super Bowls before suffering that knee injury. I also love the way he makes a point to rise from the ground before the man who hit him. I also think his extraordinarily strong fundamentals would translate to any era.

Mick from Brooklyn thinks the Seattle Seahawks could still have interest in Matt Flynn even though they made no effort to acquire the Green Bay quarterback before ultimately acquiring Charlie Whitehurst from San Diego. He thinks Seahawks general manager John Schneider simply might have realized the Packers weren't going to trade Flynn at that point.

Mike Sando: That is possible, but I've still never heard any rumblings suggesting Seattle has interest in Flynn.

Kelphelper from Anchorage sees five positives for the Seahawks in the 49ers' defeat to the New York Giants in the NFC title game:

  • Seattle, having defeated Baltimore and nearly defeated San Francisco, has now defeated a Super Bowl team thanks to its victory over New York;

  • It's always good for Seattle fans when the 49ers lose a big game they should have won;

  • The manner in which the 49ers lost could diminish the impact of their otherwise successful season;

  • Two weeks of 49ers Super Bowl hype is out the window;

  • The NFC West blog will finally have more content relevant to the Seahawks.

Mike Sando: I'm a big believer in positive thinking, but usually not at the expense of another. Getting the 49ers in the Super Bowl would have been great for NFC West perceptions. All four teams in the division would have been to a Super Bowl since the 2001 season. The tough part for the 49ers is know just how hard it is to get back into a position where they only needed a home victory to reach the Super Bowl.

The Seahawks have a lot going for them independent of the 49ers' fate. The Week 16 game at Seattle should have affirmed for the 49ers' coaches and personnel people how close behind Seattle could be in the NFC West. Both teams have promising young talent. The 49ers were ahead of the Seahawks in their development and in their talent procurement. But I think everyone watching NFC West games closely over the second half of the season saw signs the 49ers will have their hands full in 2012.

Abel from Mesa, Ariz., wants to know what 2012 pick Arizona acquired from Washington in the Tim Hightower trade.

Mike Sando: Arizona will receive a sixth-round pick in return. The pick would have upgraded to a fifth-rounder if Hightower had played at least 60.41 percent of the Redskins' offensive snaps, according to an item Kent Somers published back in October, before a knee injury sidelined Hightower for the season.

Hightower wound up playing about 20 percent of the Redskins' offensive snaps.

Jim from Tucson wants to know which areas the Cardinals need to upgrade most this offseason. He points to offensive tackle, wide receiver and outside linebacker.

Mike Sando: The receiver situation is OK as long as Larry Fitzgerald is there. Yes, the team should try to improve the position, but I would not point to receiver as a big problem for the team. Offensive tackle is rightly atop your list. The Cardinals could really use two new tackles. Brandon Keith has injury concerns. Jeremy Bridges is as good as he's ever going to be. Levi Brown isn't really the answer, and his contract will need addressing anyway.

On defense, I would want to continue upgrading the speed at linebacker. Paris Lenon deserves all of our respect for bucking the odds and remaining a starter at age 34, but should he really be the best option at this point? Perhaps Stewart Bradley figures out things in his second year with the team.

All of this assumes the Cardinals re-sign Calais Campbell or use the franchise tag on him. They cannot let him get away.

Eugene from Los Angeles disputes the notion that the Rams' community-building efforts in St. Louis indicate the team isn't acting as though it plans to leave the region. The way Eugene sees things, "business people make business decisions, and the sooner the yokels in St. Louis realize this, the less devastated they'll be if the team moves. Will the team move? I have no idea, but I want ONE person in St. Louis to articulate how, for Stan Kroenke, staying in St. Louis long term is preferable to moving to Los Angeles."

Mike Sando: Only the city of St. Louis can make it preferable. Right now, Los Angeles is like an impressive college prospect -- appealing for its potential. I'll pose the challenge here. Why should Kroenke prefer St. Louis over Los Angeles for the long term?