Written in Stone- 02/11/2000
The 49ers worked really hard over the past few days to eliminate the approximately 24 million dollars the team was over the salary cap. This number though may have been reduced to about 18 million after a meeting with the NFL, but at this moment in time there is really no way to tell.
The results are in, written in stone, both veterans and new additions. In the past 48 hours we have seen the likes of Lee Woodall, Marvin Washington and Tim McDonald released only after the 49ers already parted ways with Darnell Walker, Steve Stenstrom, Chad Fann, Morris Anderson. That was not the only help they got though. Charlesy Haley's second retirement, and Tommy Vardell's retirement surely helped the 49ers get under the salary cap.
That wasn't enough though, the 49ers then had to make some huge cost cutting reconstructions with Ray Brown, Steve Young, Ken Norton Jr., Bryant Young, Charlie Garner, Garrison Hearst, Travis Jervey, and Terrell Owens and rumor has it, the 9ers restructured the contracts of Gabe Wilkins, J.J. Stokes, R.W. McQuarters, Derrick Deese and Winfred Tubbs too. When all was said and done, the 49ers got to approximately 3.5 million dollars under the salary cap.
Just what does all this mean to the team though? Were these moves really as heroic as the media is hyping them up to be? It is no wonder most of the team's releases came on defense where the team struggled week in and week out over the past season. Hence the team is looking to get faster and better and bid farewell to Tim McDonald feeling that either Zack Bronson or Peirson Prioleau could step into the a safety position possibly moving Schulters to strong safety. With this move the 49ers may get a little faster, but will they get the same intense leadership and play making capabilities that T-Mac had to offer? There is really only one way to tell, and that is to wait until next season. Personally I have lots of faith in the 49ers safety situation.
But what about the linebackers? Lee Woodall could be the hardest hitting linebacker in the league, but the 49ers bid adue to him, and now have almost no depth at this position. The draft will have to fill a void in this area. On the defensive line the 49ers said good bye to Marvin Washington who played decently before his injury, the question here is why did they keep Wilkins and let go of Washington, Wilkins had one sac in two years.
The release of Darnell Walker, Stenstrom and Chad Fann certainly wont surprise any 49ers fan. All struggled miserably with the team, and it is quite obvious the 9ers wont to move in another direction... up that is.
The reconstruction of all those players’ contracts actually gives me the creeps. If the 49ers went back to their old ways of pro-rating a signing bonus, rather than incentive based contracts, the 9ers may have dug themselves deeper into the whole than they already are. My biggest concern is that the 49ers executives sit around all season waiting until the off-season to restructure contracts. Why? If the 49ers took action in the middle of the season with players that have a future with the team it would certainly reduce the stress and anxiety come the cap deadline. Last off-season the 49ers and Jr. Bryant came very close to finishing a deal, why then did they decide to postpone the offer until this off-season, when Bryant would be a free-agent, when they could simply have worked it out over the course of the season?
All these moves spell one thing, the 49ers are looking to get younger and faster, and this is just the start. The 9ers are likely clearing enough room to be able to take the effect of big time players released if they are forced too. They had better be careful though, because unless the 49ers are looking to start from scratch, there may simply be nobody left to pass the torch.