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They are just signing solid players and developing there own talent. They tried to get Peyton Manning so I don't think we can that they are unwilling to write a big check for a premier player if the situation presents itself.
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I remember in an interview several years ago with Bill Belichick, probably in 2007 or a year after that historic 18-1 season (Thank you, G-men). I think there was a question about the different players on his team from the first time they went to the Super Bowl in 2001 and he says you just have to coach for that. There are just a few core players that you have to keep around, but for everybody else you have to expect that every 3-5 years you are going to have all new guys on 70-80% of the roster.
It is somewhat similar to what you have to prepare for in the college game and seriously, aside from Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, and maaaaaybe Justin Smith, I don't think any of these guys warrant total roster safety beyond this season. I know some of them are locked up for several years, but there's going to be some attrition too. You saw what happened when Willis was out, depth will be tested and good backups are tough to hang onto.
I think the SF front office is being so aggressive in FA and will probably make a move or two in the draft because they know they're on to something and they have to strike while the iron is hot, the fire could burn out in a couple years.
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WOW - This post was a great read! Love how it didn't devolve into another ASmith debate! Oh no, oh no, I said it. Anyway,
I have heard that the 49ers FO creates a strict FA value chart where they actually put a contract $ and structure preference down for each FA. I think we have seen hints of this in their almost dogmatic position they put on contract offers, not negotiating much, just offering and waiting. This system must have a risk-reward calculation in it. Tells me they have done something to create a system based valuation method for players, versus subjective valuations which are easy to start to change when you feel pressure to sign someone.
The advantage of such a system would be you don't take chances on players that might be duds after you pay them big bucks -- for example they didn't even pursue Vincent Jackson when his price became clear this year. Not saying he will be a dud, just that there are risks with his off field issues that probably kept the 49ers calculation pretty low on value for him compared to other teams.
The key to this strategy is having confidence in the depth on your roster, OR believing you have the skill to draft good players that can contribute quickly. So with the staff proving (by one year's standard) the ability to produce contributers from the draft, and seemingly getting value back-ups, the 49ers seem set up to manage a very good roster over a long period of time.
BUT, BUT, there is one other ingredient key to this strategy. Bill Walsh knew it well -- and so does Belichick -- better to let players go a year early than overpay them with big contracts. This FO seems on the same tract -- with both big name 49ers recently signed, ASmith and Gore, they have steadfastly signed club friendly contracts that allow them to release players with minimal cost if their production falters.
We have a huge issue with the above looming in 49ers land -- Patrick Willis versus Bowman. Can the team afford to keep both in the valuation metric of the overall team and position values? IMHO, if either hits FA, they would command huge paydays and their contract offers would almost undboubtedly exceed what the 49ers would want to pay.