Making Dollars and Sense
February 27th 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
Editor's Note - I have to apologise for taking some time off writing. It's been about two days now since my last article, and the only explanation I have for you all is that sometimes school and social life just occupy a heck of a lot of my time, so while I kep the site up to date, I was having a hard time getting an article out each day. I should have some down time comming up soon, but until then, things may be a little rocky...
It's that time of year again, while accountants have tax season, front office executives are loaded down with their own busy season, trying every route possible to get under the salary cap before the free agent signing period on March 1st begins. For the 49ers, this means trying to find anywhere from 4 - 8 million dollars. And the team has a plan, has likely already accomplished most of the task, but always waits to announce the contract changes until all of the players they request contract changes from, have signed new deals.
And thus the blanket that has quieted most the of the Bay Area media. The team is hard at work and not making announcements, so what is it they are supposed to write about? Well in my case, I'm going to take a look at why we need to bring back some of our own free agents, and why some of them may be in high demand next week.
Jeremy Newberry in my opinion is the most important free agent the 49ers have to re-sign this off-season. Newberry the 49ers center, is the best player along the offensive line, and with Ray Brown half way out the door losing the two of them would be simply devastating. Newberry is one of two Pro Bowl centers available this off-season, and you better believe teams will be interested in him. Newberry could command as much as a $4 million / year contract. On the 49ers line, he makes all the play calls and has been an instrumental part of the 49ers rushing attack.
It's hard to believe that fullback is the second most important position for the 49ers to re-sign this off-season, but with Fred Beasley having the stellar season he just had, it's hard to believe the 49ers wont want to lock him up to a four year deal, keeping him around long enough to ease the transition from Garrison Hearst to Kevan Barlow. Beasley will be a highly sought after player this year because of his lead blocking abilities.
Lance Schulters and Garrison Hearst are at about equal priority level in my mind. Both players are starting ahead of quite a bit of talent, but both are very important parts of the 49ers success. Schulters teamed up with Zack Bronson this season to form of the best safety tandems in the league. The two worked extremely well together, and always seemed to know what the other was doing and when. Schulters will see lots of attention particularly from the Denver Broncos. Meanwhile Garrison Hearst stepped in for the 49ers and picked off right where he left off before his injury. Hearst is dynamite on the field and is one of the teams leaders. Losing him would be a hard blow.
It's hard to prioritize players who have had such an impact in building the team back to respectability. All of these players are men the 49ers want back, and will try and bring back, but free agency will make things hard. First and formost the 49ers need to get under the salary cap, and until they do - we all just have to hope that loyalty will prevail in 49ers land.