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Money Well Spent (hopefully)

Last week I wrote an article examining the question of salaries vs performance. In it I compared just the biggest spenders and the biggest misers, without focusing on the 49ers at all. I wanted to re-examine the issue today with a focus on the 49ers, comparing salary vs performance from last year to the rest of the league.

Next week I'll do the same thing, only this time I'll compare the 49ers of 2009 to the 49ers of 2002 (the last time we had a play off appearance). I wanted to go back to 1994 to look at that season's Super Bowl but the USA Today database only goes back to 2000.

First I wanted to compare the payrolls of the various teams. In 2009 the team with the lowest payroll was the St. Louis Rams (hardly surprising), and the team with the biggest payroll was the New York Giants.

Year / Total Payroll
Team Total Payroll

A quick glance shows that the lowest payroll finished with the worst record, whilst the highest payroll didn't finish with the best, but still did pretty good. The 49ers were smack dab in the middle when it came to overall payroll (16th), and I think our 8-8 record reflects that. 2010 will be a different story entirely what with the extension of Brooks, Franklin's franchise tag and the big money given to Patrick Willis.

Now I don't necessarily think that you can buy a championship, but you can certainly prevent yourselves from winning one if you don't fork out the money (though I'm shocked to see the Cowboys so low on the list of spenders--it somewhat contradicts the perceived notion of Jerry Jones as a big spender).

Join me after the jump as we look at the 49ers position-by-position payroll

Highest Spenders: San Diego Chargers ($28,604,890)
Lowest Spenders: Buffalo Bills ($3,460,790)
49ers: $5.91 million. Alex earned just over $4 million due to his incentives. Shaun Hill made $1.45 million and Nate Davis made $460,000.

The 49ers had the 25th lowest QB salary in the league in 2009, beating out the Cowboys ($5 million), Broncos ($4.99 million), Bucs, Jets, Redskins, Bills and the lowly Rams

Our passing DVOA was ranked 22nd according to Football Outsiders (lots of 3rd and long passes being caught one yard shy of the first down marker).

Running Back
Highest Spenders: Jacksonville Jaguars ($18,188,450)
Lowest Spenders: Baltimore Ravens ($2,214,280)
49ers: 8.62 million.

The 49ers were actually one of the bigger spenders when it came to running backs. We ranked 11th in spending, but sadly we didn't get that kind of production out of our backs. Interestingly enough the Patriots spent $10.875 million on running backs in 2009 (making them the 5th ranked team in dollars spent). That goes against the popular notion that Belichick likes to get no-name backs that are cheap.

Wide Receiver
Highest Spenders: Green Bay Packers ($25,887,380)
Lowest Spenders: St. Louis Rams ($3,270,931)
49ers: $12.407

Again we were in the middle of the pack, but only because a huge portion of that money went to Brandon Jones who received a base salary of $1.28 million and a bonus of $3.5 million. He accoutned for almost half of the 49ers total expenditures on Wide Receivers in 2009.

Tight End
Highest Spenders: Pittsburgh Steelers ($9,041,920)
Lowest Spenders: Philadelphia Eagles ($961,162)
49ers: $4.933 million.

Vernon Davis received the bulk of the Tight End money, which is only fair. He was paid $2.540 million in 2009. Delanie Walker only made $542,280 in 2009. The rest actually went to Brian Jennings who is listed as a TE on the roster.

That $4.933 million represents one of the higher spending teams in the league, and we definitely got our money's worth.

Offensive Line
Highest Spenders: Miami Dolphins ($41,649,735)
Lowest Spenders: Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($9,688,240)
49ers: $20.643 million ($12 million of it on Staley)

Our ranking will certainly change in 2010 with two first round draft picks to sign. The $20 million makes the 49ers one of the spendier teams in regards to offensive linemen, though not by much (the average is right around $15 million, give or take a couple million)

Defensive Line
Highest Spenders: New York Giants ($33,973,330)
Lowest Spenders: Philadelphia Eagles ($9,530,900)
49ers: $20.304 million

Justin Smith earned $8.750 million last year, but the surprise to me was the $4.052 million we paid to Sopoaga. There weren't many teams that outspent the 49ers on defensive linemen in 2009, and the results were definitely worth it with a top 5 run defense.

Highest Spenders: New York Jets ($30,502,480)
Lowest Spenders: Washington Redskins ($3,764,805)
49ers: $14.861 million

It's pretty sad we have a linebacker on the team that made more than all of the Washington Redskins linebackers combined (Haralson made just over $5 million in 2009). The sad thing is that the $14 million we spent on linebackers in 2009 is one of the lower amounts among all NFL teams. Next year that will definitely be different, what with the extension of Willis, the extension of Brooks, the signing of Bowman (when and if he signs), and any possible new deal with Lawson.

Defensive Backs
Highest Spenders: Denver Broncos ($32,494,375)
Lowest Spenders: Cincinnati Bengals ($7,863,150)
49ers: $17.557 million.

One player took up almost 1/3 of our total salary that was spent on DBs, and no it wasn't Nate Clements. Michael Lewis made $5 million in 2009, Clements made just over $4 million and Spencer just over $2 million. The $17 million we spent ranks in the bottom 1/3rd of the league. Our DBs played like that too, though I think that we started to see some good improvement towards the end of the year.

That's not likely to change based on who we've picked up as extra CBs and the salary they're getting, though Taylor Mays may bump that up a bit and Clements is starting to get into the more expensive portion of his contract (but his 2010 salary is only $6 million.)