There's a lot of speculation on the San Francisco 49ers free agency woes, and a lot of it can be allocated to common sense. Just one problem, all of it is speculation. Everyone can speculate all they want, especially using logic as to why the 49ers simply can't land a free agent to save their life.
Enter Takeo Spikes. When he played for the 49ers, Spikes was one of the more feared linebackers in the league. When both he and Patrick Willis lined up together, there was some serious thumping about to happen to the guys on the other side of the ball. Now retired, Spikes was a guest on 95.7 The Game (audio) and was asked about the 49ers offseason and inability to bring in free agents. In one answer, he was able to identify everything many have speculated, argued, and guessed is going on with in the league and the 49ers image:
"At this point, it's fair to say the 49ers have gotten worse, because they haven't done anything. You look at free agency and you know they have money, but it makes me wonder why guys are not taking the bait. And you have to ask yourself the question: Is it Chip Kelly? Is it the history of what he had in Philly? Is it the way he treated the players? Because players talk and they talk, and when free agency comes around you'll have long conversations and candid conversations among yourselves. I was one of the guys who did it. And then you have to ask yourself the biggest question of all time. We thought by Chip Kelly coming to San Francisco, I was like "Alright I'm not really excited about the hire, but I understand why. You have Colin Kaepernick, and this is an opportunity for him to take advantage of what he does so well." But when Colin does not even want to be in the building. That's scary. And so, we as players, me as a former player but as players in general, you want to go where a quarterback wants to be there. And if you know he's the franchise guy, and he does not want to be there after management has came out and said "We have no intentions of trading him." But Colin is still saying, "I don't want to be here." That throws up a red flag and that's the reason why it's hard to get talent in. I worry about my 49ers. The 49ers used to be the only team in the bay. But now it seems to me the momentum has shifted last year to the Oakland Raiders."
Spikes went into full Raiders roster highlight mode, but they circled back and asked if the reason Spikes would choose the Raiders over 49ers because of Chip Kelly:
"I wouldn't say it's strictly because of Chip, but Chip has something to do with it. The quarterback situation, guys I'm telling you: Players want to win and who do they pay the most money to? The quarterback and if they are willing to commit to Colin Kaepernick and after everything that is happening and he still doesn't want to show up? So guys are looking at that like, "Nuh-uh, No, Chip Kelly plus Colin doesn't want to be there? Nah, I'm not down for that."
And there you have it. Spikes has played for several teams during his time in the NFL, not just the 49ers. So if anyone knows the free agency dance, it's him. While this isn't the general consensus of the league, it certainly does confirm a lot of what people have discussed as to why the 49ers haven't had much luck in bringing in free agents. At the same time, the 49ers were not attached to many names in free agency this year (at least from what the dirt sheets provided), so perhaps the team wasn't as aggressive as say, Oakland was. There wasn't a lot of "huge offers" or "hard pursuit" tweets connected to the 49ers.
With the Colin Kaepernick trade going into nigh obnoxiousness and now all this unused cap space, it's fair to see why fans are frustrated. Combine that with Spikes telling it like it is, and it's obvious this isn't going to get better overnight. The 49ers have a long ways to go improving their image after not only the Colin Kaepernick drama, but also with letting Jim Harbaugh go. They certainly can improve that, but it's going to take more than one offseason. I hate to use the Raiders as an example, but the best way to fix everything is just as Al Davis said, "Just win, baby".