Happy Thursday everyone, we're still in the down time portion of the offseason but that should change shortly. About this time of year there is always a lot of speculation. Who will the 49ers draft? Who that is a free agent stays/goes? Any cap casualties? Who will we draft? For me, the wild speculation is one of the best parts and I always look forward to random things to speculate about. Yesterday, I came across one of those random things, an article from Matt Barrows about Frank Gore. The article briefly brought up something I have seen mentioned here and there but never actually gave much thought. Could the 49ers cut Frank Gore? Look ahead: one more year for the 49ers bell-cow runner (Barrows)
Frank Gore is set to make more than six million in the last year of his contract. That is elite tail back money, especially in the pass happy current version of the NFL. Frank Gore is one of my all time favorite 49ers, but lets face it, he is no longer an elite NFL RB and shouldn't be paid like it. There's not a doubt in my mind that the 49ers would like Frank to take less money. But like Barrows said, Frank is one of the most popular players and the 49ers would probably lose that PR battle. More than likely, Frank will play out the last year of his deal, but I still want to play with the idea.
When it comes down to it, Football is a cut throat business and I don't think it would be the end of the world if Frank were cut. The ideal scenario would be if Frank took a pay cut, but I don't see that happening because the 49ers don't have any leverage over him. The big question is, if he were cut, who would replace him? The obvious choice is Kendall Hunter who I am really high on. He has had similar per carry averages to Gore, albeit on much more limited carries. Still, his vision and burst have impressed me in his first few years on the team, and unlike the aging Gore, he should continue to improve. Marcus Lattimore is an unknown and I wouldn't feel comfortable trusting him as a primary back, luckily, I trust Hunter enough to get between 15-20 carries a game. If Lattimore proves good enough to share with Hunter that would be ideal, but its not like the 49ers are paying him a ton if he doesn't. LaMichael James just doesn't fit with this roster, and he is clearly not satisfied with just being a returner who might get a carry or two in a game. I wouldn't trade him for nothing, but if the 49ers could get at least a 4th for him I would pull the trigger.
Cap flexibility is the second most important thing to have on an NFL roster, behind talent of course. The worst thing a team can do is overpay for marginal players, that's how teams get and stay bad. The 49ers are close to having ideal cap flexibility, nobody on the roster has a massive cap number, and only a few players are noticeably overpaid. Unfortunately, when a team like the 49ers has so many younger players that need deals, older players like Frank Gore that make more money than their production dictates might need to be replaced. I should make it clear that I don't want to cut Frank, I had a picture of him hanging on my wall when I was a teenager. But if I was given the choice between Frank and Iupati/Crabtree/Kaepernick extensions, I pick the extensions. Anyways, onto the rest of the links.
The only realistic franchise candidates are Boldin, Whitner, and Dawson. Boldin and Whitner aren't worth top five money at their positions and Dawson falls under a franchise tag rule that I'll let Christian Gin explain. 49ers will most likely not use the franchise tag (Gin)
Replacing Whitner (Cohn)
What should top FAs expect? (ESPN)
Levi's is almost finished:
49ers stadium closing in on completion (Barrows)