Michael Crabtree He says the 49ers scored more touchdowns with Colin Kaepernick as the team's starting quarterback last season.

QB decision split 49ers, Crabtree says

Published: Friday, Mar. 29, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 7C
Last Modified: Monday, Apr. 1, 2013 - 7:24 am

Wide receiver Michael Crabtree on Thursday described a divided locker room after Colin Kaepernick supplanted Alex Smith at quarterback, as well as the bizarre sight of seeing Smith, the longtime starter for the 49ers, suddenly relegated to backup duty at practice.

"I hate to talk about it. But you have the starting quarterback, and a couple of weeks later, he's the starting scout-team quarterback," Crabtree said on the Rich Eisen podcast on the NFL Network. "And he's taking all the snaps with the scout team. It was kind of crazy to see."

Earlier this week, Crabtree said on the NFL Network that Kaepernick "trusted me more" than Smith, which is why the receiver's statistics were better later in the season.

Crabtree said the team's locker room was initially in turmoil after coach Jim Harbaugh tapped Kaepernick to start in New Orleans on Nov. 25 over Smith, who had recovered from the concussion that gave Kaepernick his first start a week earlier.

"You had guys on Alex Smith's side, guys on Colin Kaepernick's side," Crabtree said. "I was on the winning side. … You can't beat the guy who was hot. Kap was hot. As soon as he came in, even though we lost that game – I think it was a tie, that game – he came in and it just went up from there. We were scoring that many more touchdowns. We were just going every drive it seemed like. … We had like a triple threat with Kap's feet, the passing game and the running game."

Crabtree said the team division went away when Kaepernick showed what he could do on the field. "I think Kap kind of won everybody over by winning," he said.

Crabtree said Smith, who was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this month, "is a good guy."

"I wish him success with the Chiefs, man."

– Matthew Barrows

Falcons – Osi Umenyiora is looking for another ring, this time with Atlanta. The free-agent defensive end signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract with the Falcons.

Umenyiora won two Super Bowl championships in his 10 years with the New York Giants. He said the Falcons may have the most talent of any team he has seen but might need more experience to reach the Super Bowl.

The Falcons made the playoffs four of the past five years, but their first-round win over Seattle this year was their only postseason win in that span. Umenyiora, 31, said as soon as he reached an agreement with Atlanta he felt "an immediate sense of responsibility" to share his postseason experience to help the Falcons reach the Super Bowl.

Browns – Jason Campbell is more interested in getting off to a fresh start with his new team than worrying about where he might fit on the quarterback depth chart in relation to Brandon Weeden.

"There's nothing that's been promised or has been said or written. But I'm going to come in and help the best way I possibly can," Campbell said. "I'm not going to really get caught up in the speculation."

The speculation might be tough to avoid, given that rebuilding Cleveland signed the eight-year veteran to a two-year contract this week to compete with Weeden, who is coming off an uneven rookie season.

Campbell, 32, has 71 career starts split between Washington, Oakland and Chicago.

Patriots – New England signed free-agent wide receiver Michael Jenkins, who caught 40 passes for 447 yards and two touchdowns with Minnesota last season, his ninth in the NFL. He joined the Vikings in 2011 after seven seasons with Atlanta.

Colts-Eagles trade – Indianapolis acquired fullback Stanley Havili in a trade with Philadelphia for defensive end Clifton Geathers.

Dolphins – Defensive lineman Vaughn Martin signed a two-year contract with Miami after starting the past two seasons for the San Diego Chargers.

Saints – General manager Mickey Loomis said New Orleans and free-agent linebacker Victor Butler have agreed on a two-year contract. The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Butler spent the past four seasons with Dallas.

Chiefs – Kansas City hired former Vikings coach Brad Childress, who spent last season as the offensive coordinator for Cleveland. He will be the Chiefs' spread-game analyst and work on special projects.

Read Matthew Barrows' blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320. Follow him on Twitter @mattbarrows.

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