A couple days ago, over at ESPN.com, Mike Sando posted a chart looking at the average age of every NFL team. The 49ers came in 18th with an average age of 25.90. The Rams were the youngest in the division at 25.61, while the Cardinals (26.27) and Seahawks (26.18) were both older than the 49ers.
This information is certainly interesting enough on its own, but I thought we'd take a look at some other analysis on the topic. Football Outsiders occasionally puts together posts for ESPN.com and they put together a ranking of organizations based on their 25-and-under talent. In light of our discussion this morning about FO's 2010 49ers predictions, I thought we'd look at some of their more subjective commentary in in relation to this age issue.
FO took a list of every player that will be 25 or younger as of September 1 and analyzed the group on issues like " upside versus established production, quantity versus quality, and current staff versus historical ability to develop rookies when it comes to evaluating the talent available to each NFL franchise."
The top of their list included the Texans, Panthers and Chiefs. What's more intriguing is that they ranked the 49ers fifth. That ranking was obviously based quite a bit on having Patrick Willis lining up in the middle. In addition, Dashon Goldson's big year last year certainly helped out, and they recognized Tarell Brown lurking behind Nate Clements on the depth chart. We've had plenty of discussion about Brown, so we'll see how he develops in training camp.
The big help for the 49ers youth movement has been on the offensive side of the ball:
The biggest hole in the organization was on the offensive line, and the 49ers invested their top two picks this year in linemen: Rutgers tackle Anthony Davis and Idaho guard Mike Iupati. With effective 25-year-old left tackle Joe Staley returning from injury, the Niners should have one of the league's better lines by 2012.
One interesting aspect of this is that it doesn't even include Vernon Davis in these rankings because he turned 26 in January. However, having 22-year old Michael Crabtree and 25-year old Josh Morgan certainly puts the 49ers in a good position as far as the skill positions are concerned going forward. Bill Barnwell (the author) even referred to this trio (Davis/Crabtree/Morgan) as "one of the best trios of receiving talent in the game today." Certainly high praise.
What are your thoughts on the 49ers youth movement? The biggest concern is contracts, and it's hard to not think about potentially losing young talent to free agency. However, in terms of simple on the field talent, the youth movement seems to be developing in full force.