Wednesday, March 26, 2014

49ers window will start closing soon

During his final press conference for the 2013 season Jim Harbaugh was asked if he thought that the 49ers window to a title is still open and the answer was typical Harbaugh, "Back today competing for that very thing. So, no, I don't understand windows."

Harbaugh is paid to coach and win football games, not understand windows, so let me help him out a bit. The 49ers window is about to start closing and it comes down to one thing, Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick is entering the final year of his rookie contract and everything points to the 49ers giving their young signal caller a new deal. Reports from the NFL owners meetings in Orlando have the top three men in the organization, Jed York, Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh all stating that getting a new deal done for Kaepernick prior to the start of training camp would be their offseason priority.

If the 49ers give Kaepernick the type of contract he is seeking, between $18 to $20 million annually, the clock on the window will start ticking like that of Mona Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny.

A big reason for the 49ers success over the last three years has been the result of the their depth. The 49ers has had one of the deepest rosters in the NFL. Once they commit that type of money to Kaepernick they will be forced to cut in other areas. This will force the team to rely on younger, less expensive and experienced players and force Kaepernick to shoulder a larger role in the teams performance.

Many will point to the continued success of the Patriots, Broncos, Saints, or Packers in recent years although they have high paid quarterbacks. And those are all valid examples, just as the Bears, Cowboys, Jets and Lions are good examples of teams that have had high paid quarterbacks and failed to win.

The difference is that guys like Brady, Manning, Brees and Rodgers didn't get paid until they had already proven they could win the big one. At the end of the day that's what it's all about right?

In addition to winning, the Brady's and Manning's of the NFL world have proven that they can carry the team and make the players around them better.  This season Brady led the Patriots to the Championship game despite losing Rob Gronkowski to injury during the year, and Wes Welker to free agency. Meanwhile, three of Kaepernick's worst performances in 2013 came when Vernon Davis was lost for some or all of the game in losses to Seattle, Indianapolis and Carolina.

Let's forget Brady for a minute and look at an interesting stat that hits much closer to home. In 2011 Kyle Williams and Alex Smith combined for a quarterback rating of 143.3. In 2013 Williams and Colin Kaepernick combined for a quarterback rating of 25.7.

Those in support of a new deal for Kaepernick will point to his outstanding postseason record. They will go on about how he has a 4-2 record and led them to four road wins. All of this in his first year and a half as the starting quarterback.

That looks like quite an accomplishment until you realize that Mark Sanchez did the same thing with the New York Jets.

Back in 2009 and 2010, Sanchez's first two seasons in NewYork, the Jets feature a defense that finished first and sixth in points against.  The result was back to back trips to the AFC Championship game and a nice big deal for Sanchez. In 2011, after a number of changes on both offense and defense due in part to salary cap constraints the Jets scoring defense fell to 20th. Sanchez proved that he was unable to shoulder the load for the team and the end result was missing the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

Much like Sanchez, Kaepernick has been backed by a tremendous defense. The 2012 and 2013 49ers have feature defenses finished the season second and third in points against. To this point Kaepernick has not been forced to shoulder the load.

The professionals that run the 49ers franchise know what they are doing.

Tick, Tick, Tick


  1. I can't dispute your observations. I do question your last sentence in your article. Baalke has not shown he is a superior general manager and Harbaugh interferes with his mission of keeping salaries down by publicly stating salaries should go up for certain players. Gore is overpaid and should have taken a cut this year. I like him as a player and especially as a man but he is still being paid too much. Baalke should have cut his salary and possibly offered him a scouting position in the future. Baalke didn't show anything during the off season other than weaken his negotiating position by saying they would push to sign Kaepernick this summer. The recent moves they have made haven't strengthened their passing offense or defense. His drafting has been mediocre at best and all these picks may mean very little. If the 49ers sign Kaepernick to a premature expensive long term contract, I would say "the professionals that run the 49ers franchise don't know what they are doing". Hopefully Kaepernicks recent bong smoking woman waking in the hospital incident over in Florida will help things move in the right direction. The who thing reeks of immaturity. If I were a betting man I would bet on Seattle next year. They have the right quarterback, right coach, and the right GM staff.

  2. Good analysis. I think the new CBA and rookie salary scale has really changed things. I respect Kaepernick's ability but I wonder if any team will build a great defense and draft a solid QB every few years, letting them go if they get to that $18-20 M range. That to me would be an interesting, unconventional strategy.