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Money(foot)ball?

I wanted to get your opinions on something I heard recently. It was on a radio show though I can remember which one, but the host referred to the 49ers as the NFL's version of moneyball. Stating that we are using a formula of some sort to build our squad and remain competitive for years to come. He states things we all know as niner fans but puts a different spin on it. We are technically a young team but we mix 3-5 key vets per year that have something to prove. We sign them to 1 year deals and make them hungry for long term ones, if it doesn't pan out they're released. We've done this now with aubrayo (in the past), Rogers, Michael Lewis, Goodwin, moss, etc. A low risk high reward philosophy. Some say we're running things like the Pats but I say no because we take care of our own as soon as they prove they're worth it. To the Pats everyone is expendable besides Tom; vrabel, moss, Seymour, deion branch, as others cut because they don't want to over pay or feel they can be replaced. Anyone think we're on to something sprinkling in a few vets every year with the youngsters with low risk high reward, pay our own philosophy? I just thought the moneyball comparison was unique.
Originally posted by BigTrez:
I wanted to get your opinions on something I heard recently. It was on a radio show though I can remember which one, but the host referred to the 49ers as the NFL's version of moneyball. Stating that we are using a formula of some sort to build our squad and remain competitive for years to come. He states things we all know as niner fans but puts a different spin on it. We are technically a young team but we mix 3-5 key vets per year that have something to prove. We sign them to 1 year deals and make them hungry for long term ones, if it doesn't pan out they're released. We've done this now with aubrayo (in the past), Rogers, Michael Lewis, Goodwin, moss, etc. A low risk high reward philosophy. Some say we're running things like the Pats but I say no because we take care of our own as soon as they prove they're worth it. To the Pats everyone is expendable besides Tom; vrabel, moss, Seymour, deion branch, as others cut because they don't want to over pay or feel they can be replaced. Anyone think we're on to something sprinkling in a few vets every year with the youngsters with low risk high reward, pay our own philosophy? I just thought the moneyball comparison was unique.

I think a few of us have touched on this, but not on the level of detail in your post. Long story short, I agree (Even with Hessiandude).
whatever we are doing its worked so far besides anything from year 2003-2011
I havent seen Moneyball but it does stand out that we deal with FAs differently to the other teams. There has been no big slash in FA, and the 49ers are getting more 'bounce for the ounce'. If there is big money involved its with players that have been in the team and the team want to keep. Some of the deals out there are just crazy! Mario Williams coming out and saying he wants to win a championship now and then signs for . . . . the Bills, seriously, wft.

And I agree we ant running things like the Pats are. Im glad our front office is approaching FA signings differently from other teams, and they have learnt from their past and splashing big money to outside players.
Yup, we even take chances on players who were out of football! Or coming off of injury.
York's + Paraage = frugal
Originally posted by BigTrez:
I wanted to get your opinions on something I heard recently. It was on a radio show though I can remember which one, but the host referred to the 49ers as the NFL's version of moneyball. Stating that we are using a formula of some sort to build our squad and remain competitive for years to come. He states things we all know as niner fans but puts a different spin on it. We are technically a young team but we mix 3-5 key vets per year that have something to prove. We sign them to 1 year deals and make them hungry for long term ones, if it doesn't pan out they're released. We've done this now with aubrayo (in the past), Rogers, Michael Lewis, Goodwin, moss, etc. A low risk high reward philosophy. Some say we're running things like the Pats but I say no because we take care of our own as soon as they prove they're worth it. To the Pats everyone is expendable besides Tom; vrabel, moss, Seymour, deion branch, as others cut because they don't want to over pay or feel they can be replaced. Anyone think we're on to something sprinkling in a few vets every year with the youngsters with low risk high reward, pay our own philosophy? I just thought the moneyball comparison was unique.

I think a few of us have touched on this, but not on the level of detail in your post. Long story short, I agree (Even with Hessiandude).


Originally posted by SundayTicket:
whatever we are doing its worked so far besides anything from year 2003-2011

This is interesting to me, especially since this is our first off-season under Harbaugh. I've been surprised with our moves and hopeful because "In Harbaugh we trust".

However a couple things. One, would we even be thinking this if it wasn't for "Money Ball" the movie? Have teams been doing this for years? Don't have the data, just a question and if anyone with more knowledge could point to other teams (Pats have been pointed out) I'd love to hear if there's been similar strategies in the past, or lack of. Similar to 1994 49ers??? What do you think?

Unlike baseball is the QB position and I was listening to Colin Cowherd (He's crazy on some things IMO, and insightful on others) and he was pointing out how the only position worth paying $ is the QB position. Which is an interesting point. I've felt that way about running backs for years. Sometimes I feel that any decent back in college will do great with good blocking and spending $ on backs is a waste because the market is flooded with good backs. Maybe that's true with most positions as long as you have a good QB. But there just isn't a huge market on good to great QBs. Hell, even if smith is just "Good", maybe it's totally worth hanging on because you've got what most teams don't in the position.

My main thought about football is that it's a sport of Chaos, you don't play enough games to gain reliable stats like baseball. I mean honestly, after this season I though, just keep the team the same, you put yourself as a top 4-5 team and it's up to luck after that. (A seagull s**ts where that ball bounces, it changes directions and doesn't hit Kyle's shin - we win and go on to win the SB. I say we beat the Giants 5 of 10 times in that NFC Champ game).. Just try and stay in the top 10% of teams.

Interesting thread.... It'll be very interesting a year from now.
I heard that Terry Donahue was a huge fan of the book, and tried to apply it to the 49ers. More recently, I don't think it's so much that the FO is following that same philosophy,but instead are just doing what makes sense. There's no need to rush out and sign a bunch of second-tier players to ridiculous contracts. You build through the draft and supplement with free agents. That's how every winning team does it in the NFL.
I think there's a difference between Moneyball (a.k.a. the dominant usage of sabre-metrics to find good players) and what the 49ers are doing. For one, with the exception of a few positions, sabre-metrics can't be readily applied to football. Analytics work great in baseball because every action is so isolated - pitcher versus batter. You can break down match ups. The goal is always the same and for the most part every team uses the same "game plan," but different pieces.

Football is entirely different. Everything is too interrelated to get a valuable statistical view on the quality of a player. Kicking and punting are two positions where you can literally not watch any film and probably find good players. Other than those two positions, you have to do a heavy film analysis and still rely on traditional forms of scouting. There's always a reason behind statistics that can't be simplified down to, "He's a bad player" or "He's a good player."

The 49ers are simply using common sense. We need a player to do X task. We have a choice between a player who knows how to do X task but wants $$$, OR we can get this player who knows how to do X task for $$. You have to do a lot of due diligence to come to these conclusions, naturally, which is where I think the 49ers strive.
I think also that we have some very savvy coaches and staff who realize they are building a team. It's not just about money. it's about getting the right pieces and realizing they are all pieces of a puzzle. I don't know that we are necesarily running a formula. I do think we are being smart with FA$s and talent. I think one of the smarter things we are doing is not being overly clouded by our own players abilities or perceptions of them. Baas/Snyder. Did we want them back...yes...did we know better than to jeopardize the CAP to pay them? no. Did we find a suitable replacement for Baas. Yes. (who just had to sign a pay cut by the way) we will find one for Snyder too. Same thing with Castanzo. He talked a big game like he wanted to come back but what it really meant is he wanted to be paid to come back. Why overpay for that? I'll miss all these guys but it will work out well.
Bottom line: front office and coaches earned lots of rope last year. I'm excited to see who comes out of the bargain bin this year.
Originally posted by susweel:
York's + Paraage = frugal
I agree this is works with a great coaching staff but "frugal" meaning what it really is, cheap doesn't and has not worked out well with lame coaches like Sing,Nolan ect.
Originally posted by 12b6demurrer:
I think there's a difference between Moneyball (a.k.a. the dominant usage of sabre-metrics to find good players) and what the 49ers are doing. For one, with the exception of a few positions, sabre-metrics can't be readily applied to football. Analytics work great in baseball because every action is so isolated - pitcher versus batter. You can break down match ups. The goal is always the same and for the most part every team uses the same "game plan," but different pieces.

Football is entirely different. Everything is too interrelated to get a valuable statistical view on the quality of a player. Kicking and punting are two positions where you can literally not watch any film and probably find good players. Other than those two positions, you have to do a heavy film analysis and still rely on traditional forms of scouting. There's always a reason behind statistics that can't be simplified down to, "He's a bad player" or "He's a good player."

The 49ers are simply using common sense. We need a player to do X task. We have a choice between a player who knows how to do X task but wants $$$, OR we can get this player who knows how to do X task for $$. You have to do a lot of due diligence to come to these conclusions, naturally, which is where I think the 49ers strive.

this
At it's core, Moneyball is really about finding under-valued attributes and avoiding over-valued ones.

It's true that Sabre-Metrics don't work very well in Football because of the short schedule and lack of isolation, but the value principles are 100% applicable.

In the salary cap era, value is the only long-term winning strategy. Everybody talks about the need for a franchise QB, but gaining a franchise QB is largely a matter of luck. New England ended up with Tom Brady by accident ... if they knew he would be that good, they wouldn't have waited until the 6th round to draft him.

Marquee QB's without major baggage are almost never available in Free Agency, so teams end up needing to roll the dice in the draft and hope that one of the guys who looked good in college will also look good in the NFL.

I think the most critical thing that people overlook is the role of chance in success for NFL players and teams. The Eagles showed that you can't create a 'guaranteed' championship team ... you can only create the opportunity for a championship team to emerge. When you splash money on FA players, it shortens the window where that emergence can happen. When you run a value-based strategy (and are very lucky) like the Patriots, you have the opportunity to play in multiple Super Bowls.
I 100% agree. I also think a lot of teams do it. Baltimore, Pittsburg, etc. always sit out the first few weeks of free agency, and let teams overspend on players. Think about it, most teams now have very little cap space left, so the remaining free agents are kind of screwed in a way. With the cap increasing in 2014 significantly, look for a lot of players to sign 2 year deals, which is fine with me.

Bill Walsh said in his book, pass rusher, shut down corners, blind side OT, and qb are the ONLY positions worth the mega premium. These are your core, everything else can be put in place for less.

I can see the niners getting a back up guard for close to the league minimum to compete with Kilgore. I think Kilgore is the man, and hope he starts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3r6z5kiMhA

A little video to get you pumped of why I think he will be the starter.
I really don't understand the moneyball comparison.

The A's don't spend heavily because they don't have a lot of revenue and MLB doesn't not require teams to spend a certain amount towards salaries. Moneyball is about using Sabermetrics to evaluate players. While there exist statistics like Sabermetrics in football...many of them are descriptive more than they are predictive. Also, its much harder to use statistics in football because there are too many variable involved in any single play. In baseball you have one pitcher and one batter, so its much easier to analyze and predict because its a very isolated incident.

Anyway, I digress.. The Niners tend to NOT spend much on FA. This isn't unique to the 49ers. Many teams have a similar philosophy and attempt to build teams through the draft. It's really simple why you do this. Younger players tend to be more healthy and cheaper. Also, you can develop them to fit your system easier than bringing a bunch of key FA who will have to adjust.

Very good example of this is Nmandi (sp?)....no one will dispute he is a phenomenal talent and he really struggled in a different system last year. Personally IMO the Raiders used him much better than the Eagles did last year. Either the Eagles have to adjust to the him or he has to step it up and play better within the system. That's a lot of money to spend on a guy who hasn't shown that he can fit the Eagles system and if the Eagles are willing to make things easier for him, they have to change their defensive philosophy to a certain extent. Is that really a good investment?

Anyway, I digress again, but honestly, I don't think their is any sabermetrics in play in the 49ers deciding who the sign and who they don't. In terms of taking fliers on low risk/high who might have some problems outside of the playing field is exactly that...they are simply taking fliers on guys that could give a big reward in the end.

Keep in mind, Baalke is a scout and thinks and acts like a scouts. Scout tend to go off the eyeball test more than any sabermetrics.

*Also, keep in mind that the Boston Red Sox along with MANY other teams in MLB use Sabermetrics...and I don't think anyone considers the Red Sox to be "cheap."*