Let me open this letter by stating that I am a lifelong 49er fan and a true admirer of your work with the team. When I started cheering for the 49ers, I was 8 years old and Joe Montana had just arrived on the scene. It was a golden era for us 49er fans, with a string of Super Bowl wins and arguably owning the 1980's and early '90's. Those were heady days.
Then the darkness set in. It was slow to come (IMO starting with the trade of Joe Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs, but that's a totally different topic for a FanPost) and it remained for a long time. Eventually we ended up in the 49er fan equivalent of the Black Plague - the early 2000's. We hit rock-bottom in 2004.... it was a sad, sad time...
Optimism struck again in 2005 with the drafting of our new franchise QB in Alex Smith and our future all-time leading rusher in Frank Gore. The following year, we drafted an incredibly talented and exciting young TE - you, sir.
The team paid you - an unproven rookie who hadn't so much as started a single game (let alone score a TD) $23Million and made you the highest paid TE in the NFL. They paid it to you for simply showing up.
In return for that $23Million, you produced 1,132 receiving yards and 9 TDs - over your first THREE seasons.
In 2006 - you ranked #140 in receiving yards (265) and tied for #68 in TDs (3)
In 2007 - you ranked #82 in receiving yards and (509) and tied for #51 in TDs (4) - a good improvement!
In 2008 - you ranked #119 in receiving yards (358) and #92 for TDs (2) - uh oh... regression!
To summarize these 3 years - you were paid $13.8million. Broken down:
- $12,190 per yard of production
- $1,533,333 per TD
In essence, no matter how we measure those years, you were INCREDIBLY overpaid based on production. But the team didn't come to you asking for you to take a step back and renegotiate your deal based on largely being considered a "bust." No... they believed in you and continued paying you as the #1 TE in the league.
You came into your own and blew it up in 2009 and 2010 - finally living up to your draft status and producing more in line with your compensation. We were all incredibly pleased and excited for you and the team. The team - once again - awarded you a contract worth $37Million ($7.4MM average per year) and made you the highest paid TE in the NFL. You earned it. You deserved it. Ultimately, the point to all this math is that, over time, it all evens out. And if you're going to demand more because you had a couple good seasons, the team should have demanded less when you stunk up the joint. But they didn't.
So... don't get me wrong. We know that you were on some pretty God awful teams in your early days. But the point is that when your production stunk, the team stuck by you and honored the contract they had agreed to. They believed in you. It's clear that your value to this team is huge. You've helped us in immeasurable ways. You're a total baller and I believe I speak for all true 49er fans when I say that we're incredibly excited and blessed to have you on our team. We want you to retire as a 49er.
I believe that 90% of success in life is showing up. Your holdout is perplexing (to say the least) to just about everyone. You're already the #3 paid TE in the NFL and last year you were the #6 TE in receiving yards, #2 TD scoring TE. You're being paid what you're worth and, I predict, if you just SHOW UP and do your job you'll be rewarded again with a nice contract that should take you to retirement as a 49er.
You need to show up, Vernon. You're hurting your "brand," not helping it. And you're cheapening the use of the holdout as a tool for genuinely underpaid players.