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First and Goal: Analytics and Market Inefficiencies

Mar 4, 2015 at 3:42 PM

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Welcome to 'First and Goal', your guide to everything Niners. Every week, we'll get into all the pertinent information regarding your favorite football team and the NFL at large; be sure to also check out our 'Hero of the Week'. If there's time for world peace, we'll explore that too.

Let's get to it!

Analytics and Market Inefficiencies

ESPN recently ranked teams in all 4 major sports to determine which organizations have the most innovative and successful data-analysis resources within their day-to-day operations. Our SF 49ers came in at a respectable #9 in the NFL. While some sports like baseball tend to have a higher percentage of teams using a numbers-based approach, it's good to see our team invest serious dollars into data-mining, in hopes of making better, well-rounded decisions. At least the 49ers are not the Phillies, my other guilty pleasure. Philadelphia ranked dead last in the poll and word on the street is the Phillies just figured out that they should invest in computers! No, seriously!

The 49ers dove into the world of analytics when they hired Paraag Marathe out of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he no doubt was a fine student. In 2011, Marathe impressed enough people in California to make it on this impressive Silicon Valley list. Since then, he's risen to President, becoming the chief negotiator on all player contracts and overseeing all business operations in the organization while also playing a key role in making Levi's Stadium a reality. He's a notorious grinder who hardly sleeps, though he's been known to catch the occasional nap at Levi's during the 3rd quarter of football games while most fans are still inside, waiting for the food attendant to pour them another glass of pinot gris. He even won another award recently, accomplishing so much under 40 years of age that I'm not so sure I like the guy, though I'm glad he works for us.

Which brings us to today's discussion of analytics. While Marathe is undoubtedly doing the data-mining, the man using those numbers is our own Trent Baalke. Analytics cannot stop an organization from making a mistake, for people are human beings. Life happens. What analytics is supposed to do is stop an organization from making a BIG mistake. Big contracts to aging superstars is the quickest way towards mediocrity and that's something the 49ers simply have not done in the last 5 years or maybe longer. They just don't make that fatal mistake, balancing that strategy with an overabundance of picks that raise our chances at hitting gold in the draft. (side note—can't get the headline of "Niners strike gold with Goldman" out of my head)

It is up to Trent Baalke and gang to explore market inefficiencies and exploit them, in effect staying ahead of the curve. Boone and Bowman were both extended early, accepting immediate cash raises over the uncertainty of a better future contract. We were able to do this because the NFL is such a brutal sport, and so is our management team, including Marathe. ACL reclamation projects are another market inefficiency. Most teams with only 7 picks and multiple holes can't afford to risk a 3rd or 4th rounder on a player who won't play that year. Most GM's and coaches can't afford to think that far ahead. We also seem to do very well trading up and down in the draft. All NFL teams have their own value system in the draft, but the way we have amassed future picks only the Patriots rival us in this department, and everyone knows they're a bunch of cheaters anyways.

Exploiting market inefficiencies is just another fancy way of saying, we need to think outside the box. Kap's unorthodox QB contract is a fine example of this. Two million dollar fee for not making it to the Super Bowl? Ouch! This week, we signed an Aussie rugby player, who by all accounts is a tremendous young man who even takes his mom out on dates! It doesn't hurt that he's young, he's cheap and he has experience in returning kicks. Thinking outside the box is the difference between good teams and great teams, for every decision comes with risk; by taking more risks and spreading out our cash, it minimizes the chances that any one decision will ruin our team. It wasn't long ago that NBA teams thought Europe was soft. Now Nowitzki has a ring and every other team has scouts traveling the world, looking for the next Dirk.

Our organization is not only innovative, it is celebrated for its innovation. But not everyone. There were rumors that Harbaugh wasn't so hot for analytics. We at 'First and Goal' don't like to look backwards, we look forward. This team is Baalke's team, for better or for worse and we finally have a coaching staff that shares their management's vision. In the end, it's not a perfect system. No system is. But at least we're not the Phillies. Only the early onset of dementia would make me root for a team that has lost more than 10,000 games in its history. That and they were named after me.

A Chat with Steve Logan

We at 'First and Goal' are very curious about Steve Logan. Multiple interview requests have been rebuffed and flat-out ignored, so the best we can do is piggy-back a recent interview by our arch nemeses, Taylor Price and the worker-bees at

Our first impression is that we like his southern-drawl. He looks to have a good dose of southern hospitality. Good manners are necessary for a QB coach. Please Colin, put down the Instagram and look at these videos of Steve Young!

We like his admission that no QB is a finished product, least of all our QB. Working on fundamentals is required study by all. But hey, at least our QB can do this when the pocket collapses!

Logan has been out of coaching for a little while, only getting back into it when someone stoked his competitive fires enough. That man was Jim Tomsula, so be glad for that.

Logan enjoys the first-class vibe of our organization. This is just a guess, but I don't see too many wal-mart khakis in Logan's future.

Logan plays the guitar! Here Taylor Price drops the ball, letting Logan segue into fishing without finding out some important facts. Who's your favorite band, Steve? No, it's Led Zeppelin Steve… it's Led Zeppelin.

Hero of the Week!

We here at 'First and Goal' believe in mankind. We believe in justice. We also believe in fairness to those who have served their sentences. For too long, people like Roger Goodell have used their positions of power to arbitrarily punish those they lord over. Everyone can agree that the recent Ray Rice/Adrian Peterson debacles could have been avoided; that's why the CBA exists in the first place! Rules are drawn up, and then we follow the rules.

Unless your name is Roger Goodell. He keeps making things up on the go and overtly punishing his players for infractions against the public image of the NFL. Lately, these punishments have been egregious and without end, prompting several players to file court cases against him. Even the owners are embarrassed. It is the commissioner's job to create as little friction as possible for the NFL's cash-generating scheme and Goodell's done exactly the opposite. Regardless of the crimes, a system was voted into place and that system has been largely ignored.

In the strange absence of proactive ownership measures (like firing Goodell), we're left with the only recourse that a man of power respects. The mother-lovin-law babe! So this week, we nominate our hero, US District Court Judge out of Minnesota, David Singleton Doty! Under the CBA, Doty is the ultimate arbiter of grievances between the NFLPA and the NFL's management council. He's ruled on the side of the players every time the greedy billionaire owners try to squeeze even more billions into their greedy, stubby, little white fingers. Goodell and crew have run their offices with obvious disdain for their employees, which is why we salute Judge Doty for his continued allegiance toward worker's rights. Rice and Peterson paid their dues, now let them play football! Wait, aren't the 49ers in the market for a RB? Someone call Baalke!

The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Matt
    49ers weren't #9 on the list. The list of "believers" was in alphabetical order so we don't know exactly where they were rated. All we know is that the 49ers made the list.
    Mar 4, 2015 at 7:16 PM
  • wut
    Mar 4, 2015 at 6:28 PM

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