With all the angst regarding our coach these past few day, a few people have asserted that our dynasty is over. It's been fun, see you at the draft. I think Jim Harbaugh is a great coach, but coaching is only one piece of the puzzle. Few coaches have been able to replicate their winning ways. Bill Parcels jumps out. So does Joe Gibbs. Bill Walsh created a dynasty, but he didn't automatically then take Stanford to a national championship.
To win a Super Bowl, you got to have the players, and you got to have a little bit of luck. I'm not going to try and analyze the luck part, but what about our players? Are we as stacked as we think we are? Let's take a look at our future roster and find out.
2017 is 4 years from now. Many of the names will change, but there is a good chance that most of the starters on day 1 of the 2017 season are on the roster right now. Here are the different ways that we will build the roster.
Players already signed:
1. Joe Staley: 2017 will be his 11th year in the league and his last on his current contract. He will have slowed down a little, but still holding down the left tackle spot for one more year.
2. Anthony Davis: Only 28 years old and still with multiple years under contract.
3. Navarro Bowman: Anchor of our defense and only 29 years old.
4. Tramaine Brock: Entering the last year of his current contract. Also, only 29 years old.
5. Andy Lee: Still punting. Still the Death Star.
Players we will end up extending at medium to large size contracts:
1. CK7: I am torn on this one. We are not going to pay Colin 20M per year, but my fingers are crossed that we get him for an extension that averages about 14M per year through 2019. If you've seen my other post, this is a little more than I would like to pay but if the cap keeps jumping up then it works out ok. He'll realize he can make it up in advertising.
2. Aldon Smith: Most teams are built around their QB, Pass Rusher, and Left Tackle. Extending Aldon fills in the last pillar for us. We will exercise our 5th year option for 2015, and then sign him through 2019. He'll be 28 for the 2017 season.
3. Michael Crabtree: Most people have said that we can sign 3 of our big 4 free agents next year. I agree and give the nod to Crabs. Unfortunately, this means Iupati is gone after this season. Michael surprises us and takes on a large but reasonable contract. He is not the diva we thought, and I think he showed that this year. He is a bit aloof, and this scares off other teams also. He will be 30 in 2017.
4. Alex Boone: Alex gets a medium sized contract. He is an above average Guard that can also play Tackle. The versatility seals the deal for keeping him around. He will be 30 in 2017.
5. P Willie: His contract only goes through 2016, and will be his 10th year in the league. He will have slowed down a bit, but want to finish his career as a Niner. He'll play through 2018, and then wait for his HOF ticket. In 2017 he will be 32.
6. Eric Reid: I don't know if we will have resigned him already, but this will be his 5th year in the league. Hopefully we have him already extended, but regardless we exercise the option to extend his contract and keep him around. He is only 26 in 2017.
7. Ian Williams: Dorsey gets the nod in 2014, but Williams takes over in 2015 and gets another contract. He'll be 27 in 2017.
8. Bruce Miller: We hammer out the deal now. He will be 30 in 2017.
Players we extend to reasonable second contracts.
After 3 seasons in the league, we can negotiate new contracts with rookies. If the player has sat behind someone for those first 3 years, the league does not have a lot of tape to evaluate said player's worth. This allows us to set the market for these players, and get them for reasonable contracts. It is a win-win. They player gets enough cash to be set for life (assuming they don't blow it), the Niners get a good to great player at the low end of the market. So, who do we work this magic with:
1. Marcus Lattimore: He is the backup in 2014, splits carries in 2015, and then signs an extension and becomes the feature back in 2016 and beyond. The crazy thing is that he is only 26 in 2017. Assuming Marcus Lattimore recovers from his injuries, he is going to be around for a long time. People may demand Marcus get more reps in 2014 and 2015, but the FO will not burn him out. Slow and steady wins the race with this one.
2. Vance McDonald: He's still got to make improvements, but did you know he played almost as many snaps on offense (479) as Bruce Miller (520)? Yes, Bruce got injured, but you get my point. Vance sits two more years behind VD and then takes over the starting nod in 2016.
3. Quinton Patton: I am not a member of the bandwagon, but I am not sure why not. This guy is going to be good. He sits behind Boldin for two more years and then takes over the WR2 position on 2016.
5. Corey Lemonier: Corey takes over for Brooks in 2016. My then, he learns some moves to go with his speed, and we are happy, happy, happy.
6. Joe Looney: Replaces Iupati in 2015. He and Alex Boone may switch sides. Looney will be 27 in 2017.
7. We extend our long snapper. Why not?
If you haven't figured in out yet, except for a few guys that is the bulk of our 2013 draft class. It will rival 2007 and 2011, but we won't fully see it until 2016.
We still have a few positions to fill, and we will have to look to the draft for them. Specifically:
Center, SS, CB, DE
An average draft class produces 2 3-year starters for a team. We have 4 drafts, so we can assume 8 starters. We will need 4 of them to step up for the 2017 season.
Center: Kilgore gets the nod, and possibly a contract extension this year, but we still draft someone in the 2nd round and he has to compete to keep his spot. The draftee wins out.
SS: Even if we sign Whitner, it won't be for 4 years. We draft his replacement in 2015, spacing out the contract with Reid.
CB: We will draft a CB high every year from now on. We've put the money into our front seven, so we need to find our secondary in the draft. It's a choice we've made. Hopefully we get a few more Eric Reid type players and then we will be fine.
DE: Ugh. Justin Smith's replacement. I slotted Tank behind McDonald, so this spot is open. If Okoye makes it onto the practice squad, then I would pencil him in here for 2017. He will only be 27. Unfortunately, I think the Jaguars, who are playing games in London every year, will grab him just for the PR. I have no problem extending TJE, but I'm thinking we are drafting a stud in 2016 who takes over for the 2017 season.
OK nation, what do you think? Clearly, I have a lot of faith in our 2013 draft class, but even if I am off by a player or two I am being very conservative with future drafts. The bulk of the future draft picks will be waiting to replace these guys as they "carrousel" out. Only two guys over 30, and over half the roster is starting now.
Bottom line for me, I don't know if we will win 1 SB in the new few years, or 3, but our roster is positioned for Jim, or another high quality coach, to make a good run at it. It will take some good contract work and our 2013 draft class rounding out. Based on what I saw this year, I think we will be ok.
The 49ers aren't going anywhere.