Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The 49ers have not said much regarding the tampering charges they filed against the Jets regarding first-round draft choice Michael Crabtree. They've generally fallen back on the familiar "it's a league matter" line.
Team president Jed York would not go into details during his recent interview with KNBR radio in San Francisco, but he did say more than I had heard the 49ers say previously:
I think it was clear there was some evidence that the Jets talked to him and as a group we decided this is something that is very serious and we wanted to make sure it was brought to the league's attention. Scot, Paraag and I discussed it and we moved forward from there.
This is the strongest and most specific statement I have seen from the 49ers regarding this ongoing case. York did not mention anything about Deion Sanders' potential role, which could also be of interest.
The league defines tampering a number of ways, including: "A club's representative, or a third-party intermediary of that club (Club A), is involved in a private meeting or conversation with a player (or his representative) who is under contract to, or whose negotiating rights are held by, another club (Club B); and the League obtains substantiation that after or during the above contact with the player, Club A has stated, publicly or privately, its interest in obtaining his services; and contract problems or other disputes subsequently arise between the player and Club B (for example, the player’s failure to report on time to Club B)."
The NFL will need to find out whether Sanders, already involved in a separate case involving alleged college rules violations, or anyone else might have served as such an intermediary. Sanders and Crabtree share an agent, Eugene Parker, and Sanders has served Crabtree in a mentoring capacity.
If nothing else, accusing the Jets of tampering effectively removed the Jets as a potential suitor for Crabtree while serving notice to other teams -- and to Crabtree -- that the 49ers would not be pressured into trading the receiver, which rules prohibit until March anyway.