THE NEW YORK Jets are denying any improprieties with Michael Crabtree, the 49ers' still-unsigned top draft pick.
Jets coach Rex Ryan called the 49ers' allegations of tampering "not true" and "ridiculous." He wishes he could retaliate against the 49ers on the field this season — happily aware that rumble could only happen in Super Bowl XLIV.
Imagine if the 49ers had a coach so outspoken. Oh, that's right, they do. Or did.
Coach Mike Singletary is suppressing his inner baritone. He and the 49ers are staying mum. He did not throw a "tamper" tantrum.
Give Singletary credit for keeping his emotions in check on this latest development in the Crabtree saga. He has a team to coach, an undefeated one at that. Crabtree is not part of that team, just an outside distraction.
Singletary did not show up Monday with pie charts, graphs, e-mails and phone records detailing the Jets' alleged mischievous acts (or those of other possible squads who've yet to be identified for similar infractions).
Singletary simply handed this ball off to NFL investigators, appropriate considering the 49ers' run-oriented operation.
Two weeks into the season, Singletary looks like a calm captain — in bright red Under Armour sweats with matching sneakers. He is driving a once glorious yacht out of iceberg-laden waters.
The 49ers have won six of their past seven games, and seven of 11 since Singletary replaced Mike Nolan as coach last season.
(Sidebar: Nolan is working wonders as the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator, as Raiders coach Tom Cable attested Monday in previewing their AFC West matchup Sunday in Oakland. Sidebar No. 2: The Raiders have won three of their past four, so kudos to them, too.)
Singletary's mission is to unify the 49ers. He isn't about to rip Crabtree, at least not until it's 100 percent certain the former Texas Tech wide receiver will snub the franchise that drafted him 10th overall and sit out this season.
While the 49ers brass ratchets up this saga by levying tampering charges (thus pointing a finger at Crabtree's agent, Eugene Parker), Singletary must protect the interests and inspire those 53 men currently on his roster.
"We need every football player that can help us win — (every one) that is supposed to be here — here," Singletary said. "As I said before, he is a talented guy, and hopefully it works out when he gets here. If it doesn't, I feel comfortable with what we have."
Comfortable? Not exactly a ringing endorsement of a playoff-caliber roster, is it? But it fits what we've seen after two games, both of which the 49ers absolutely could have lost.
Next comes a fantastic test: Sunday's visit to Minnesota, where the 49ers fell 35-7 in 2003 and 40-16 in 1999. It's where the 49ers' ever-emerging defense will have to contend with running back Adrian Peterson and quarterback Brett Favre.
Speaking of Favre, didn't the Jets just draw a hefty fine because they lied about his status on their 2008 injury reports? Yep, the Jets never break NFL rules, do they?
While Minnesota is the likely final resting place of Favre's illustrious career, it hosted the beginning of Shaun Hill's NFL life, albeit as a bench warmer his first four years. Hill is 9-3 as the 49ers starting quarterback, but Singletary isn't about to hyperbolize on Hill's account.
"Is he capable of taking a team and putting them on his back? Hopefully we never have to ask him to do that," Singletary said. "Hopefully we don't have to have a quarterback here in position to just take us and put us on his back and take us down the field."
Zing. The 49ers quarterback throne has never been so downplayed.
Singletary claims Hill's role will expand as this season unfolds, just as it should. See, you can't rely every week on last game's winning recipe: Two marathon runs by Frank Gore and a rib-rattling hit by Patrick Willis near the goal line to knock out the opposing quarterback.
You also can't spend every week worrying about who is snooping in your yard and tampering with your possible future stars.
Because Ryan's Jets are the defendants in this tattle tale, a "not guilty" plea was an obvious play call. The 49ers echoed similar words even after they were convicted of tampering two years ago with Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs.
Still, you probably want a detailed explanation about Crabtree's job hunt. You probably want Singletary to scream "I Want Justice (and Winners)!"
Now that would be ridiculous, not to mention "outrageous, egregious, preposterous," as a savvy New York lawyer might add.
Contact Cam Inman at firstname.lastname@example.org.