FRUSTRATION!! Now that the Combine has concluded, we're sitting around waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting. For the Alex Smith trade to consummate ... for free agency to start ... for the draft in April. Enough already ... I'm tired of waiting! So ... in my head, I'm going to take over Harbaalke's jobs, make my free agent decisions and sign them, select my draft picks and get them signed, get through mini camps and training camp, get through the pre-season games, make my final cuts, and get ready for the regular season to start. See ... this is very efficient ... condensing a six-month process down to just a few hours! The question is: how do you evaluate my performance as GM? But before you answer ... just remember that, like a really old free agent, I work for cheap!
I'm presenting my opening day 2013 Final-53 roster. Here's how to read it:
- Returning Veterans -- Initial Caps Only
- New Free Agents -- ALL CAPS
- New Draftees -- ALL CAPS AND ITALICS
- Veterans Traded, Released or Not Re-Signed -- (Name in Parenthesis)
- Names in Bold -- Starters
RUNNING BACKS (5):
WIDE RECEIVERS (6):
TIGHT ENDS (3):
OFFENSIVE TACKLES (3):
OFFENSIVE GUARDS (3):
OFFENSIVE CENTER (1):
Note that Kilgore and Schwartz can also play Center.
TOTAL OFFENSIVE PLAYERS = 25
NOSE TACKLES (2):
DEFENSIVE ENDS (6):
INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4):
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4):
Note that DE draftee Devin Taylor is built like Aldon Smith and specializes in pass rushing; like Smith, he could very well be converted to Outside Linebacker.
AQIB TARIB (Carlos Rogers) Free Agent -- New England Patriots
or SEAN SMITH Free Agent -- Miami Dolphins
GREG TOLAR (Tramaine Brock) Free Agent -- Arizona Cardinals
BLIDI WREH-WILSON Draftee -- Round 3 / Pick #93
TOTAL DEFENSIVE PLAYERS = 25
TOTAL SPECIALISTS = 3
TOTAL ROSTER = 53
There you have it. Here's a summary of the proposed roster:
Returning Veterans .................38 .....72%
Mid-Priced Free Agents ......... 3 .......6% -- Amendola, Moore, Tarib or Smith
Cheap Free Agents ..................4 ........8% -- Johnson, Schwartz, Tolar, Seymour or Cullen Jenkins
Draftees ....................................8 ......15%
And I know what you're thinking ...
This represents a 28% turnover from last year's Super Bowl roster; should we really do that? To which I answer emphatically ... YES, because (a) we have substantially upgraded the overall roster talent level, (b) we have eliminated sub-standard performers, (c) we have gotten younger and cheaper, and (d) we have freed up money to invest in moderately-priced free agents and core-player contract extensions.
With regard to the last point, I have made a rough calculation of the financial effect of not re-signing or cutting players no longer on my projected roster:
- 2012 Combined Base Salaries of Free Agents Not Re-Signed (Moss, Ginn, Leonard Davis, Sopoaga, RJF, Grant, Haggans, Goldson, Brock and McBath) ... $17.85 milliion; presumably we have this money to spend to replace these players.
- 2013 Combined Base Salaries of Players Traded or Cut, Gross of Dead Money (Alex Smith, Goodwin, Ian Williams, Haralson, Whitner, Rogers, Akers, Hall, Robinson and Hampton) ... $30.49 million.
So, where are the holes in the plan? Note that I have assumed that we can re-sign Delanie Walker ... the only one of our free agents that I assume returns. While the Niners have supposedly offered Walker a very handsome raise, he wants to be a starter. Whether or not another teaam is willing to offer him "big money" to become their starting TE remains to be seen. Obviously if he leaves we would need to find another TE; assuming that we did not replace any of the proposed draftees by drafting a TE instead, we would have to look to free agency for find another TE ... they will be available, but unfortunately not with Delanie's versatility. As the old saying goes, you can't win them all. But this roster is pretty damn close. But not to worry about the TE position; note that you heard it here first ... the Niners first round pick in the 2014 draft could very well be TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington) 6'6" 258# 4.60 speed; he will be a top-25 pick next year so we would probably have to trade up from #32 to get him.
That concludes the base article. However, knowing that some of you out there are real "analyticals", there are probably some explanations called for. You've undoubtedly noticed that I used draft pick #24 instead of #31, and that I used draft pick #42 instead of #34 ... how the hell did that happen? Glad you asked ... let me explain. I believe that UCLA's DE Datone Jones is the best possible fit for our scheme at one of our two biggest need positions. I know ... why not Margus Hunt? Simple ... Jones is NFL-ready right now; Hunt is a major project player and by the time that he's NFL ready he will be at least 27 years old. THAT is not an acceptable prognosis for a first round draft pick. Jones is the better value in my opinion.
Unfortunately, Jones is also a very good fit for the Seattle Seahawks; most scouting services have Jones ranked as a top-20 prospect; further, many mock drafts have Jones going to Seattle at pick #25. Conveniently, the #24 pick in this draft is held by Indianapolis ... our good fortune. Why? The Colts have needs everywhere but only have FOUR picks in the April draft ... they're probably more concerned with the quantity of picks that they don't have than the absolute placement of their first round pick. Great ... let's take advantage of that. But first, let's go get some additional ammo to trade up. Since Dashon Goldson is very likely gone, we obviously need to replace him through free agency or the draft. Since we are going to replace Whitner with free agent William Moore (a young and outstanding strong safety), let's look to the draft to replace Goldson at free safety. Yeah, I know, the safeties are interchangable, but it's about TE coverage skills ... Moore is an outstanding cover safety, so he gets to play the TE. Back to the draft. Next to Kenny Vaccaro, who will be gone by the 20th pick, the best free safety prospect in this draft is LSU's Eric Reid ... he actually plays a lot like Goldson. The thing is that we can get Reid just as easily at pick #42 as at pick #34 ... so why not?
Miami will be looking to draft several new starters from April's draft, so higher picks early are probably better for them. Based upon these suppositions, I make the following two draft-pick trades (the numbers in parentheses after each pick is its trade value):
- Niners trade Pick #34 (560), acquired from Kansas City in the Alex Smith trade, to Miami in exchange for Pick #42 (480) and Pick #108 (78).
- Niners receive Pick #24 (740) from Indianapolis in exchange for Pick #31 (600), Pick # 108 (78), Pick #150 (32) and Pick #157 (28).
Thus, we end up with the following picks and usages:
Round 1 / Pick #24 (Indy) -- DE Datone Jones (UCLA) 6'4" 283# 4.80 speed
Round 2 / Pick #42 (Miami) -- FS Eric Reid (LSU) 6'2" 213# 4.50 speed
Round 2 / Pick #61 -- WR Aaron Dotson (Marshall) 6'3" 210# 4.53 speed
Round 3 / Pick #74 (Caro) -- NT Brandon Williams (Missouri Southern State) 6'2" 335# 5.37 speed
Round 3 / Pick #93 -- CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson (Connecticut) 6'1" 195# 4.53 speed
Round 3 / Pick #1XX (Comp) -- DE Devin Taylor (South Carolina) 6'7" 266# 4.72 speed
Round 4 / Pick #125 -- RB Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina) 5'11" 221# 4.46 BEFORE INJURY
Round 6 / Pick #170 -- K Dustin Hopkins (Florida State) 6'1" 193# 4.74 speed
Draft selections for the Practice Squad:
Round 7 / Pick #2XX (Comp) -- RB Knile Davis (Arkansas) 5'11" 227# 4.37 speed
Round 7 / Pick #2XX (Comp) -- WR Brandon Kaufman (Eastern Washington) 6'5" 216# 4.67 speed
Round 7 / Pick #2XX (Comp) -- SS/ST Cooper Taylor (Richmond) 6'4" 229# 4.57 speed
Draft selections traded for lower-round picks in the 2014 draft:
Round 6 / Pick #189.
Round 7 / Pick #211.
Round 7 / Pick #221.
THAT is how we got there! What say you?