Crabtree, the former Texas Tech star who is the NFL's final draftee yet to sign, is seeking money more comparable to that of higher picks and the sides are still far apart.
"It's just unfortunate," Rice said on the field at Candlestick Park before Sunday's Seahawks-49ers game. "And it doesn't look like they're getting anywhere close to coming to an agreement. This guy's way behind, way behind. I'm talking the speed of the game, everything. If they brought him in right now, I don't think he's going to be ready to play."
49ers team president Jed York has said he recently tried to schedule a face-to-face meeting with Crabtree and his representative, Eugene Parker, but hadn't heard back.
Crabtree, who turned 22 this past Monday, hasn't accepted the 49ers' offer for approximately five years and $20 million with a reported $16 million guaranteed.
"I'm sure there might be a little animosity toward him if he comes in and gets handed that starting job," Rice said. "I'm sure a lot of guys are probably taking it real hard. This guy is the No. 1 draft choice and he's holding out and he can really help the team. And he's only thinking about, well, he went No. 10 but he thought he should have gone No. 5 and that's the type of money he's trying to get."
There have been multiple reports in the past month, including from his cousin, that Crabtree would re-enter the draft in 2010 and wait for the money he thinks he deserves.
"I think the thing is right now he has maybe too many people in his ear," Rice said.
The 49ers endured a brutal training under coach Mike Singletary, and that's when a lot of team bonding takes place, too.
"Pretty much you lose everything with the team, the chemistry," Rice said. "You need to be in training camp working out with those guys, sweating with those guys, putting those tough days in. This game is so fast and it's such a fine-tuned game now that you just can't skip regular preseason then come into regular season and expect to play well."
Crabtree caught 97 passes for 1,165 yards and 19 touchdowns last year during his sophomore season at Texas Tech. He finished his college career with 231 receptions for 3,127 yards and 41 TDs.
Rice himself was once a holdout for 37 days in 1992 and has said it was one of the poorest choices he's made, but insists he never would have considered missing time in the regular season.
"I don't know how long I held out, but it was not during regular season," Rice said. "There's no way I would have held out during regular season. I was like, 'Just get it done so I can get back in there with my team and try to win football games and make this team a better team.'"