Turmoil in 49ers Land
It has certainly been an interesting couple of weeks in 49ers land. The scramble to get under the cap resulted in the release of some high calibre players like Garcia, Deese, Stone, and Hearst (among a few others), the team failed to lock up the vast majority of its free agents for this season (Barlow and Enlgeberger appear to be the only ones), and of course there is the whole Owens fiasco.
Many fans are encouraged about the ‘new direction’ the 49ers seem to be headed in. They only want players to sign contracts on their terms and are outright refusing to renegotiate contracts with players in order to reduce base salaries against the salary cap. Personally, I just feel this is a line that Terry Donahue is trying to sell us fans. The proof is in the pudding. While the 49ers let Garcia walk because of contract demands, and reportedly have made ‘fair’ offers to guys like Ahmed Plummer and Jason Webster, they are not holding up the other end of the bargain. At least seven players were asked to restructure their contracts this year, despite Donahue’s ‘new direction’. As such the team will continue to suffer from salary cap problems.
Terry Donahue did also say that the team would be approximately $4 million under the cap in 2005, and $14 million under the cap in 2006. There is no question he knows the numbers better than I, but again I have a hard time believing this organization when just 5 years ago, we were pitched a ‘three year plan’ to get out of salary cap problems. Sure we started winning in the third year, but salary cap problems persisted, and the ‘five year plan’ was pitched. Five years later, I’m still waiting to see the 49ers under the cap, and not hampered by dead money. So why should I just take Donahue’s word for it?
Approximately 35% of the 49ers salary cap this season will be taken up by dead money, and this is supposed to be an improvement? How in the world can we expect this team to compete, when they have nearly $30 million less free money to deal with than the rest of the NFL? Ever wonder what Steve Mariucci could have done on a team with salary cap room to improve its talent each year? Imagine what the coach could have done with a roster that was truly talented from top to bottom. Perhaps the three run football strategy would have subsided. With a very young team expected again this season, Erickson may be wise to build up the run game. After all that is one of the few areas that 49ers have veteran talent at – and could be this team’s best shot at winning.
There is no doubt that this needs to be brought under control and that is the line the 49ers continue to pitch us, but I want to see results, and so far I have not. So when the team’s management stands up in front of the press and tells the fans, to wait just another year, I really can not take their word for it. So what if the 49ers are cutting big names or not taking big names back. We have been down that road before. Remember Jerry Rice, Ken Norton Jr, Merton Hanks, and Lee Woodall – just to mention a few. Cutting big names does not mean salary cap savings. It might turn out that way next year, and perhaps we will be $4 million under the cap. But I have a very hard time simply taking Donahue’s word for it. I have done that for five years. Now I want to see it. Stop feeding us lines that mean nothing 49ers management, just stop.
Suppose the 49ers are indeed $4 million under the cap next year. Do any of us really expect them to fill out the roster with improved talent? The changes of the team making a play for a guy like Jevon Kearse as the Eagles did this year (the model team for salary cap health according to 49ers management) seems slim to none. John York continues to show that he wants every decision to have the least effect on his pocket book. Some of you will point to the signing of Kevan Barlow as York’s willingness to spend money. Let us be realistic though. One contract does not turn a cheapskate into a big spender. Neither do five, or six. It is a continuous process that occurs over years, and York has years to make up for. While I believe York will continue to sign a few players here and there to fill out the roster, ala Tony Parrish, etc. I do not believe York will pay big money for any one player, and I do not believe he will ever go after the star free agents. I am equally hesitant that the team will not be able to re-sign any stars that emerge on their roster.
On a side note, I am really going to miss Garrison Hearst. I have a feeling our quarterback will miss his blocking too.
Julian Peterson is case and point. Yes his agents are a pain in the rear end, and yes he was asking for too much money. But had management and ownership had the foresight, this contract would have been signed last year. Some of you will argue that not signing Owens last year was one of the best moves this team has made, and so why should they have taken the risk on Peterson? The answer is simple. Owens has always been questionable, he has never been a model player off the field and on the field, and his hands are very streaky. That has always been the case. Julian Peterson on the other hand has been nothing but a class act and extremely good player since joining this squad. Had the management and ownership had the foresight, Peterson would have not needed the exclusive franchise player tag this off-season.
I am personally appalled that the team let offensive linemen Ron Stone and Derrick Deese go. The offensive line is hurting, has no depth and quite frankly, these two guys are solid players. Their replacements as starters, Harris and Kosier might be able to hold down the fort (though I am rather sceptical at this point), but the team has absolutely no depth on the offensive line now. This could have been avoided by keeping at least one of Stone or Deese. I just feel bad for Jeremy Newberry, a pro bowl player, who will be stuck on a line of players who have yet to prove anything.
The release of Jeff Garcia hurts, because I am a huge fan of Jeff’s. Still I recognize that if the team is rebuilding that they should do it behind their future quarterback. I thus hate the fact that the job was handed to Tim Rattay. Rattay played well in two out of three games this season, but that is all he has going for him. He may very well be the answer, but the spot should not have been handed to him. It should have been all out, open competition in training camp for the starting spot. Yes Dorsey, may still beat out Rattay, but that is much harder to do with a depth chart already established, and the coaches already standing behind one man. Competition will exist, open competition should have existed. Again I question whether this team is afraid to assemble the best possible starting line up.
I really do not feel Terrell Owens has a case. It seems pretty apparent to me that his agent missed the deadline. The question should not be what is fair, but what the law is. There is no reason, why his agent should not have the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) practically memorized and it was signed three years ago. Even if Owens or his agent were notified of the change in writing by the NFLPA, there is no reason why Owens should be granted free agency status (without the 49ers agreeing to it, and receiving compensation). The NFLPA and NFL negotiated the agreement together, so this was not a unilateral move by the NFL. The NFLPA represents all players in the NFL, so if they messed up, NFL teams, like the 49ers should not have to suffer.
In the coming days we should learn more about the situation. I for one would not be shocked if Owens is traded within the next day or two. But if that doesn’t happen (as Terry Donahue hinted it should, saying that the team would shop Owens around heavily in the next 72 hours), then this process may be long and drawn out. Then the management will cite the Owens fiasco as why the off-season was unproductive (provided it was) and signing new and better players. And the excuses will continue.
Enough. I want the truth. I know I can handle it. Stop feeding me lines, and give me the truth. I have no respect for John York. He and his staff continue to lie to the public. Continue not to act in the best interest of the team and its players. Either ship up, or admit you are not nearly as good as Eddie and ship out. There is only one reason to lie in the NFL, and that is to make sure other teams do not sign or draft the players you want. John York is liar (even if we are $4 million under the cap next year, it will still be long after the initial prognosis, which seems constantly revised. We are still being told that a new stadium is in the works, yet no one has shown us a model, a blue print or a plan… hmmm wonder why?), and I hate being lied to.