The 49ers won’t be the same when they put their uniforms back on this summer. That’s just life in big and small pro cities these days. The spiffy new stadium comes with a hefty mortgage, which translates into higher ticket prices, loftier expectations, and itchy ownership.
Jim Harbaugh is already working on his next last play. And on his young quarterback. Count on it.
The next time the 49ers head coach bellows, “who has it better than us?,” he will remember last Sunday and Seattle and the Seahawks, and the fact Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman are headed to the Super Bowl while the 49ers title drought continues, and at least partly answer his own question.
The other part of the question/answer session – which most assuredly leads to an ongoing offseason conversation – pertains to Colin Kaepernick. The third-year quarterback became eligible to sign a contract extension Monday, meaning the 49ers are confronting two immediate and delicate tasks: Determining his financial value and then figuring out a way to accelerate his development. Because right now? After these last two postseason finales? Those two ill-fated passes aimed at Michael Crabtree in the endzone?
Kaepernick is a proven talent, but he remains an unpolished commodity. So what is the going price for that powerful arm and those spectacular feet? For a young player still learning to read defenses and prone to late-game mistakes? He certainly can’t command the salary of a Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, among others whose salaries average between in the $20-million range. They won Super Bowls, and he didn’t, and that’s how it works.
The 49ers also want to avoid anything resembling a Flacco-esque dilemma. Flacco’s timing a year ago was terrific for his own fiscal security, but not so great for the Baltimore Ravens salary cap management. The six-year, $120 million deal he signed weeks after being named Super Bowl MVP led to the roster purge in which Boldin and several other important, impactful players were waived or traded.
Yet both parties who maintain varying degrees of interest in the opening next season of the new stadium – the 49ers and Kaepernick – the prudent move is to embrace the best and the worst of the past, and compromise on an extension. The 49ers don’t need another crushing defeat. By securing their most important player, the 49ers would maintain stability at the most important position in professional sports – and a position that not so long ago was the very model of instability. Tim Rattay. Ken Dorsey. Cody Pickett. Trent Dilfer. Shaun Hill. Chris Weinke. J.T. O’Sullivan. Troy Smith. Alex Smith.
Those were the starters at various times after Jeff Garcia left after 2003. Alex Smith, of course, flourished under Harbaugh, reviving both the franchise (13-3 in 2011) and his own career before being dumped in favor of the more athletic, explosive Kaepernick.
– Ailene Voisin, Sacramento Bee
The 49ers won’t have to worry about a Super Bowl hangover this year.
But the headache and nausea from that NFC Championship Game loss? That’s going to last for a good long while. As safety Donte Whitner said Monday, losing to Seattle was worse.
The fact that the season ended at the hands of their archenemy, not the New York Giants or the Baltimore Ravens or some other distant team, hurts much more. If the Seahawks beat Peyton Manning and win their first Super Bowl title, the obstacle they present to the 49ers will grow that much bigger.
Once again, the 49ers’ season effectively ended on a play that will be second-guessed. Compared with a year ago, the fallout could be more dramatic.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh, who has two years left on his deal, reportedly wants a contract extension. He obviously wants a raise. But he’s probably not going to get Pete Carroll money ($7 million per year), not after losing to Carroll and failing to advance to the Super Bowl. The seeds are being sown for a potentially disgruntled Harbaugh. You think Jerry Jones might like to double his salary?
Colin Kaepernick? He, too, is due a contract extension and a big raise, but it won’t be as big as it would have been if he were heading to New York next week. And for a player with a chronic chip on his shoulder, the contract situation could rankle him.
The 49ers, though not old or at the end of anything yet, have plenty of questions on their roster. Frank Gore is always at the top of everyone’s list as the Man Who Might Be Done; he turns 31 in May and there is no worthy backup in sight.
Michael Crabtree, signed through next season, is also due an extension. The 49ers need to re-sign Anquan Boldin, because Harbaugh and Trent Baalke have proved they can’t effectively draft and develop a wide receiver, but that might take more money than they want to spend.
Whitner is a free agent. There has been talk of signing Aldon Smith to a long-term deal, though his off-field issues might have made that a lower priority.
Two of the team’s best players – one on offense and one on defense – will be trying to come back from injuries. Both guard Mike Iupati and linebacker NaVorro Bowman were hurt Sunday. They wouldn’t have been available for the Super Bowl, which would have dramatically lessened the 49ers’ chances of winning their long-sought sixth Lombardi Trophy.
The 49ers are the latest Super Bowl loser to fail to win a Super Bowl the following year, a streak that extends 41 years. They bucked a recent trend of lower-seeded teams that find a back door to the Super Bowl: For only the second time in 20 years, the Super Bowl will be a matchup of No. 1 seeds.
The 49ers did not lose Sunday’s game because Richard Sherman said mean things about Crabtree. Or because the officials have it out for the 49ers. Or because the crowd was too loud.
They lost because of bigger issues, the type that have plagued them all season. They lost because Harbaugh, whose clock management has been an issue ever since he came into the league, didn’t call a timeout to set up a better play on the most critical down of the season. They lost because Kaepernick didn’t survey his options and instead chose to challenge the best cornerback in the game. They lost because the Seattle defense – unlike Carolina’s or Green Bay’s, which had their chances – held on to the errant passes Kaepernick threw. They lost because, as in their other defeats this season, Gore couldn’t run the ball effectively.
They might have lost because Harbaugh and Baalke didn’t choose to draft Sherman orDoug Baldwin when they had a chance in 2011, instead selecting cornerback Chris Culliver(in the third round) and wide receiver Ronald Johnson (sixth round). For whatever reason, Harbaugh ignored the players he had helped develop at Stanford and Seattle snapped up Sherman in the fifth round and signed Baldwin as an undrafted free agent. Both were keys to Seattle’s victory.
And ultimately, the 49ers lost because of what happened in the regular season. Because they settled for field goals rather than touchdowns against Carolina in November, couldn’t put together a game-winning drive in New Orleans, came out flat against Indianapolis at home. They lost home-field advantage and were forced to go on the road to a stadium where the home team rarely loses, the environment is the most difficult in the league and where Kaepernick has a history of unraveling.
– Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle
People are so mad at Richard Sherman.
That’s fine. He’s a perfect villain. He’s a formidable foe who relishes the role. Boo him. Root against him and his Seattle Seahawks. Point out the flaws in his game. Remind him of the times he’s been burned. Point out better players. Even tell him to shut up and play.
Those are all acceptable responses to a bragging victor. But to call him classless, deem him an embarrassment and an idiot, is an unfair and misguided assessment.
This is sports. This is entertainment. Part of (modern) competition includes the element of banter and verbal jousting. In any event, it’s a stretch to use trash talk in sports as a barometer for one’s character. But it’s especially inaccurate for Sherman.
Don’t let liberty of his tongue shock you into casting him as a degenerate. You’ve got the wrong guy.
Sherman is a rose that grew from Compton. A straight-A high school student who earned a degree at Stanford. He’s invested so much into developing his talents that he’s grown from an unheralded college player to one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
That is worthy of celebration and respect for the character, work ethic and perseverance it took to defy such odds. That isn’t negated because his braggadocio bubbles over into the public domain. Don’t confuse the performance with the person. Where he’s from, people sell drugs, rob and kill. But he rose above it. He isn’t a dumb jock who rode the wave of his athleticism. This dude is an intelligent, thoughtful man.
Monday in Tacoma, Wash., his Blanket Coverage Foundation gave out children’s books, educational toys and shoes to underprivileged kids. He’s no menace to society, just to NFL offenses.
That guy you saw giving the epic postgame interview/monologue is a professional athlete. He’s playing football in the way that’s fun for him, probably the way he learned to compete growing up.
It’s a bit hypocritical to attack him for playing the antagonist in a show he didn’t create.
–Marcus Thompson II, San Jose Mercury News