As the 49ers have moved to fill holes in the depth chart over the last few days, the most noticeable aspect of the additions has been the overwhelming number of one year contracts. The team has locked up a lot of the young talent for the next few years, but their free agent additions are primarily one year deals.
I'm a fan of that in terms of not locking up too much money on slightly older players. At the same time, it does raise some question marks starting as soon as next year when these deals are up. The key then becomes how much young talent does the team have locked up for the near future.
Late last month, our own Danny Tuccitto put together an FO post over at ESPN ranking the top NFL organizations based on their talent 25 years of age and under. In ranking the teams FO looked at the following factors:
- The number of games in 2010 started by players under the age of 25
- Whether or not a team's young starters last season were simply injury replacements
- The number of 25-or-younger first-team All-Pros that a team has on its roster
- The extent to which a team's 25-and-under talent plays impact positions in the passing game
- Whether or not a team has a talented, young quarterback
- The amount of value a team added in the 2011 draft
- A team's recent track record of developing and retaining young talent
In breaking down those factors, Danny ranked the 49ers 17th, with the Bears at 16 and the Dolphins at 18. Here are his top ten and bottom three. Remember that this is based on talent 25 and under, so the Falcons move out of their 2010 seventh spot with their big names passing 25.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. New England Patriots
4. St. Louis Rams
5. Detroit Lions
6. Cleveland Browns
7. Green Bay Packers
8. Philadelphia Eagles
9. Cincinnati Bengals
10. Houston Texans
The 49ers ranking is a tough one to gauge because some of their 25 and under talent could be on the verge of blowing up. They might end up doing nothing, but if they can continue their development, the 49ers could rank highly next year for young talent.
Since next year the 25 year olds will be 26, let's look at the 24 and under talent. Among others, some of the 49ers under-25 talent with decent experience under their belt includes FS Reggie Smith, NT Ricky Jean-Francois, OG, Mike Iupati, WR Michael Crabtree, LB NaVorro Bowman, and OT Anthony Davis. Among their rookies you're looking at guys like LB Aldon Smith, QB Colin Kaepernick, RB Kendall Hunter, CB Chris Culliver and WR Ronald Johnson, among others.
Given the use of one-year contracts for all these free agents, what do you think about the 49ers current organizational depth chart? The team could elect to try and re-sign some of the free agents they brought in if they find some success. However, it will be interesting to see how they handle free agency next year with a normal offseason and a year of Jim Harbaugh under their belt.