No one quite knows what transpired on the practice field Wednesday between Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, but it was serious enough that San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary had to escort both players to locker room and later refused to discuss their dispute in detail.
"There are no more elephants in the room," Singletary told reporters afterward. "The elephant was exposed."
Singletary wouldn't say specifically what the "elephant" was, but he later added, "They both were wrong."
According to witnesses, the 49ers were conducting a late-morning walk-through when Crabtree and Davis were spotted off to the side engaging in an animated talk that included Singletary acting as a kind of referee. The talk lasted for several minutes before Singletary ushered both players off the field and into the locker room.
After about 10 minutes, Davis emerged. Crabtree and Singletary came out later, and both players watched the end of practice, although they did not stand next to each other. When the walk-through was over, Singletary ordered the entire team in the locker room rather than gather them around in a large huddle, as he usually does.
Whatever caused the argument, Davis may have been acting in his role as one of the team captains to address an issue he felt was important, although Singletary said it was not football-related. Through a team spokesman, both players declined to comment, although it's believed that Davis was speaking up for team veterans upset that Crabtree has been allowed to miss too many practices.
"We will not have distractions on this team," Singletary said. "Vernon temporarily forgot that that is not allowed. We don't treat family like that. We don't disrespect each other.
"I just needed to remind him that that's not who we are. He's fine. He did a great job. He's one of the captains. He did the right thing, but he did it the wrong way."
Indeed, Singletary said Davis may need to soften his approach when dealing with teammates.
"He's not going to sugarcoat things," Singletary said. "He doesn't know how to sugarcoat things. I wish he did sometimes. But I appreciate what he was trying to do."
STARTERS TO SIT: Don't look for quarterback Alex Smith, running back Brian Westbrook or tight end Vernon Davis to play Thursday night against the San Diego Chargers. Singletary said all three will sit but added that Crabtree, who has been bothered by a neck strain, might play. David Carr is the likely starter at quarterback.
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