San Francisco 49ers’ window to win a title could be closing


During his final press conference for the 2013 season, Jim Harbaugh was asked if he thought that the 49ers window to a title is still open and the answer was typical Harbaugh, “Back today competing for that very thing. So, no, I don’t understand windows.”

Harbaugh is paid to coach and win football games, not understand windows, so let me help him out a bit. The 49ers window is about to start closing and it comes down to one thing, Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and everything points to the 49ers giving their young signal caller a new deal. Reports from the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., have the top three men in the organization, Jed York, Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh all stating that getting a new deal done for Kaepernick prior to the start of training camp would be their offseason priority.

If the 49ers give Kaepernick the type of contract he is seeking, between $18 to $20 million annually, the clock on the window will start ticking like that of Mona Lisa Vito in “My Cousin Vinny.”

A big reason for the 49ers’ success over the last three years has been the result of depth. The 49ers have had one of the deepest rosters in the NFL. Once they commit that type of money to Kaepernick, they will be forced to cut in other areas. This will force the team to rely on younger, less expensive and less experienced players and force Kaepernick to shoulder a larger role in the team’s performance.

Many will point to the continued success of the Patriots, Broncos, Saints or Packers in recent years, although they have highly paid quarterbacks. And those are all valid examples. Just as the Bears, Cowboys, Jets and Lions are good examples of teams that have had highly paid quarterbacks and failed to win.

The difference is that guys like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers didn’t get paid until they had already proven they could win the big one. At the end of the day that’s what it’s all about, right?

In addition to winning, the Brady’s and Mannings of the NFL world have proven that they can carry the team and make the players around them better. This season, Brady led the Patriots to the Championship game despite losing Rob Gronkowski to injury during the year and Wes Welker to free agency. Meanwhile, three of Kaepernick’s worst performances in 2013 came when Vernon Davis was lost for some or all of the game in losses to Seattle, Indianapolis and Carolina.

Let’s forget Brady for a minute and look at an interesting stat that hits much closer to home. In 2011, Kyle Williams and Alex Smith combined for a quarterback rating of 143.3. In 2013, Williams and Colin Kaepernick combined for a quarterback rating of 25.7.

Those in support of a new deal for Kaepernick will point to his outstanding postseason record. They will go on about how he has a 4-2 record and led the 49ers to four road wins. All of this in his first year and a half as the starting quarterback.

That looks like quite an accomplishment until you realize that Mark Sanchez did the same thing with the New York Jets.

Back in 2009 and 2010, Sanchez’s first two seasons in New York, the Jets featured a defense that finished first and sixth in points against. The result was back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship game and a nice big deal for Sanchez. In 2011, after a number of changes on both offense and defense due in part to salary cap constraints, the Jets scoring defense fell to 20th. Sanchez proved that he was unable to shoulder the load for the team, and the end result was missing the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

Much like Sanchez, Kaepernick has been backed by a tremendous defense. The 2012 and 2013, 49ers have featured defenses finished the season second and third in points against. To this point, Kaepernick has not been forced to shoulder the load.

The professionals who run the 49ers franchise know what they are doing.

Tick, tick, tick.

The 49ers can make a good situation better at defensive tackle. (READ)

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  • Funky Chicken

    Comparing him to Sanchez is a cheap shot. Nobody who says that Colin is worthy of an elite contract uses only his playoff record as support, although his playoff record IS hugely impressive and much more so than Sanchez’s playoff record (Sanchez, for one, never took his team to the Super Bowl, and never mounted the largest comeback in conference championship history). To suggest that Kap has just been along the for the ride in the same way that Sanchez was is to totally ignore what actually transpires on the field. Kap was the league’s 7th rated QB last year. Did Sanchez ever single-handedly win a playoff game (the way Kap did against Green Bay in his first ever playoff game)? Kap’s playoff games include the following:

    1. Setting an NFL record for QB play in his first playoff game (a win).
    2. Bringing his team back from the largest deficit by any conference title game winner, on the road.
    3. Coming up about a yard shy of greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
    4. Taking over the game and winning on the road in one of the coldest games in NFL history.
    5. A gritty performance on the road to beat a higher-seeded 12-4 team with a fantastic defense.
    6. Coming within a few inches of beating the eventual SB winner, on the road, in the league’s toughest stadium, against a defense that is statistically the best pass defense in the NFL over the last 10 years.

    This is not even remotely close to Sanchez’s performance.

    • Jack Hammer

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      Responding to a few of your points:
      1) Yes he rebounded nicely from the pick 6 on his first pass. The defense was tremendous in that game, giving up only 17 points until a garbage time TD.
      2) He through 21 passes in that entire game, including 1 on the game winning drive.
      3) Coming close is only good in horseshoes and hand grenades.
      4) Being able to outrun a linebacker with an injured leg is impressive. How about the near pick 6 earlier in that possession? The one that he duplicated a couple weeks later in Seattle.
      5) Carolina was overrated, and imploded with silly penalties in the first half.
      6) Oh the difference a foot can make.

  • Jeff W

    Never put the emphasis on “Windows” closing on teams. When the Window closes on teams it is due to age, or contracts that are like lead weights. The 49ers have yet to handcuff themselves to a contract that will kill them. Think about the Salary Cap under the current CBA which expires after the 2014 Season, and the New CBA that starts for the 2015 Season. We are talking 133 Million for this season and 150 million, and will grow by 15-20 million dollars over the term of the next 5 Years. So, giving Kaepernick a long term deal now, while the cap is still manageable, will not overly effect it for the next 5 years. So, if a team has a bunch of high contracts for 6 and 7 years yeah, the window close. But, the grand economics, New Revenue from new stadium, new TV Deal, The window will always remain open, as long as the team drafts smart and stays smart to to it plan.

  • Steve

    I think this guy who wrote this piece is DILLUSIONAL!!!!!

  • RiverMikeRat

    “He through” Jack?

    Really? You’re a paid writer and mistake “threw” for “through”? SMFH

    I have editors that would fire me for a mistake like that, even if it’s only in comments.

    Colin should be like Sir Joe and Sir Jerry and realize that if he wants a ring, he will need to be realistic with his salary expectations UNTIL he gets that win (and participates in earning it. )

    • Jack Hammer

      I’m truly sorry Rat. I tried to fix it, to no avail. The cover32 editors have already taken me to the woodshed over the mistake.

      I will work to get better.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry… comparing Kaep to Mark Sanchez shows very little understanding of football.

    • Jack Hammer

      The comparison between Sanchez and Kaepernick has more to do with how they were supported by strong defenses.

      It is interesting though that if you look up their postseason passing totals Sanchez has actually put up better numbers than Kaepernick.