2021 SF 49ers Schedule and Prediction

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Week 1: @ Lions

W (1-0) – Niners owned Goff as a Ram. They will destroy him as a Lion.

Week 2: @ Eagles

W (2-0) – Jalen Hurts will be hurting.

Week 3: Packers (Sunday Night)

W (3-0) – Aaron Rodgers maybe happy again with the Packers but will be sad again after the game.

Week 4: Seahawks

W (4-0) – Russell Wilson may be leading the league in sacks after this game.

Week 5: @ Cardinals

L (4-1) – Cardinals surrounded Kyler Murray with weapons.

Week 6: bye

Week 7: Colts

W (5-1) – Carson Wentz to the Colts but he should have wentz to the Packers, Seahawks or Texans cuz their QB’s are not happy.

Week 8: @ Bears

W (6-1) – With either Andy Dalton or Justin Fields, the Bears will already be in early hibernation.

Week 9: Cardinals

W (7-1) – Niners avenge their only loss with an unstoppable running game with Mostert-atti,  Wilson, Sermon, and Mitchell.

Week 10: Rams

W (8-1) – Shanahan has McVay’s number.

Week 11: @ Jaguars

W (9-1) – Urban Meyer still thinks he is coaching a college team.

Week 12: Vikings

W (10-1) – Kellon Mond may be their QB as Cousins went to visit his relatives.

Week 13: @ Seahawks (Sunday Night)

L (10-2) – Russell Wilson performs his magic getting out of multiple sack situations.

Week 14: @ Bengals

W (11-2) – Burrow has gotten better but not good enough. The Niner’s D will burrow him.

Week 15: Falcons

W (12-2) – Falcons got the best young Tight End (Kyle Pitts) but Fred Warner will show him who’s boss.

Week 16: @ Titans (Thursday Night)

W (13-2) – Trey Sermon will win GMFB’s Angry Run scepter instead of Derrick Henry this week.

Week 17: Texans

W (14-2) – Trey Lance’s first start.

Week 18: @ Rams

W (15-2) – Jimmy G will torch the Ram’s D including Jalen Ramsey.

Niners head into the Playoffs with a dominant running game and a passing game which will be much better than the 2019 Super Bowl team. With Bosa back and as well as the CB’s (Jason Verrett, K’Waun Williams and  E-Man Moseley), the D will also be scary good. On Offense, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk will become stars along with Kittle but watch out for Jalen Hurd who missed his first 2 seasons with injuries. At 6’ 5” 230 lbs., he will be the perfect Red Zone WR. Travis Benjamin as the slot receiver will surprise, also. On Defense, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw will be stand-outs but Javon Kinlaw will become a star. Both rookie CB’s  Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir will emerge as keepers and will get plenty of playing time. Rookie Safety Talanoa Hufanga will be a Special Teams star and will get plays on D on pass rushing downs. He will be the “steal” of the 2021 NFL draft.

How the Niners do in the Playoffs is a story for another day (as I say this smiling).

2021 NBA MVP – Steph Curry

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Steph Curry is Super-Human, Other-Worldly, the Human-Torch and the MVP for the 2021 NBA season. The Nuggets’ Nicola Jokic is also deserving of the MVP as he also is having a Great year. Therein lies the difference… Someone having an Other-Worldly season should be MVP vs someone having a Great season.

When NBA fans watch the Denver Nuggets play, they watch a very good team with very good players and a great player in Jokic. When they watch the Warriors play, they “stop what they’re doing and watch” the Human-Torch light it up to see what magic he can perform.

Steph means more to his team than any other player means to their respective team. Last year, he broke his wrist and played only 5 games in a pandemic shortened season. The Warriors’ went 15-50 and obviously did not qualify for the playoffs. This year, Steph has been relatively healthy but missed 8 games when he took a hard fall on his tail-bone. The Warriors are 36-26 when Steph plays and 1-7 when he was hurt. Nobody means more to a team then Steph means to Golden State. When Steph is on the floor, The Warriors score 16 points more per 100 possessions. This compares to the Nuggets scoring 4.7 points more per 100 possessions when Jokic is on the floor.

Steph, the Human-Torch has hit 10 or more 3’s in 7 games. This is more than every other NBA players combined. He leads the league in scoring (31.8 points per game). When he won the MVP in the 2014-15 season, he averaged 23.8 points and when he won MVP unanimously in the 2015-16 season he averaged 30.1 points. He leads the league in made 3’s with 328. And during an 11-game stretch last month, Curry became the first NBA player to average 40 points while shooting at least 50% from the field, 40% from 3-point range and 90% from the free-throw line.

What else has he done this year? Curry posted a career-high in points in one game (62). He surpassed Reggie Miller for second place on the NBA’s all-time 3-point list (2,822). And he replaced Wilt Chamberlain as the Warriors’ all-time leading scorer (18,367 points).

Just another season’s work for an Other-Worldly NBA player named Steph Curry.

Two Trey’s, a Honkin’ Big Road Grater, and More Great Picks

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As I predicted in my last post, the Niners did indeed pick Trey Lance as their future franchise QB.  He was the only choice that made sense as Lance can be an effective pocket passer and provide the other weapon for Shanahan’s offense, mobility with speed and power.

Speaking of power, the Niners then drafted a huge guard, Aaron Banks, 6’ 5” 330 pounds, who will play next to another Golden Domer, Mike McGlinchey. He is an absolute road grater and did not allow any QB sacks. Right Guard was the weakest position on the O-Line last year and with Banks in the fold, the Niners will field one of the best O-lines in the league (LT Trent Williams, LG Laken Tomlinson, C Alex Mack, RG Aaron Banks, and RT Mike McGlinchey). In a later round, they also drafted OG Jaylon Moore, 6’ 4” 311 pounds, who is versatile and can play either Guard or Tackle. He is highly graded and was a steal in the 5th round. Daniel Brunskill has re-signed and can play any O-line position including Center. With this group, the hope is that they can keep Jimmy Garoppolo upright and healthy all season while Lance learns Shanahan’s playbook.

Keeping with the power playbook, the Niners drafted one of the best running backs in the draft, Trey Sermon. He runs with “quick” power and fits nicely into Shanahan’s run scheme. They weren’t finished with improving the running game as they also drafted RB Elijah Mitchell, another powerful and shifty runner who analysts call an absolute steal in the 6th round. The Niners are now stacked with great RB’s in Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Trey Sermon, Elijah Mitchell and Wayne Gallman who played for the NY Giants last year. Along with Juice at FB, the Niners now sport one of the best backfields in the league.

The Niners draft strategy was clear… get their future QB, then protect their QB’s, and get back to the power run game that sent them to the Super Bowl in 2019.

To round out this year’s draft, the Niners finally addressed their Defensive Backfield by drafting CB Ambrey Thomas in the 3rd round and S Talanoa Huganga in the 5th round. Thomas opted out in 2020 but had a very productive 2019 with 54 tackles, 4 INT’s and 5 fumble recoveries. He runs a blazing 4.37 40 yard dash and has good size, 5’ 11” 191 pounds and plays stronger than he looks. Huganga may be the steal of the entire draft. He was the Player of the Year in the Pac-12. Talanoa had 62 tackles (5.5 for losses), 4 INT’s and 3 QB sacks. His goal in his first year is to make the All Pro team on Special Teams. He is an absolute missile and hits like a ton of bricks. Looking at his highlights, he looks like other famous USC Safeties, Troy Polamalu and Ronnie Lott. You can bet that both Troy and Ronnie will give him valuable NFL tips. With the possibility that Richard Sherman may re-sign, he will be the on-field coach in developing the skills of both Thomas and Huganga.

Lynch and Shanahan learned from last year from all of the injuries the team suffered. In filling out this year’s roster through free agency and the draft, they made sure that they stocked up on players in key positions where injuries hit them especially hard. And, in doing so, they also set themselves up for a grueling 17 game season. I can’t think of any other NFL team that planned for a 17 game season like Lynch and Shanahan did in the 2021 NFL Draft.

As all drafts, we won’t really know how these picks will turn out but if some Lombardi Trophies can be raised in SF in the next few years, we can then properly grade them.

With the 3rd Pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the SF Niners Select…

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Trey Lance !!!

  1. Lance has all the physical tools:
    1. 6’ 4” 226 pounds.
    2. 4.55 seconds in the 40 yard dash with 1.99 seconds in the last 20 yards. In a live football game, he ran for a 44 yard TD and was clocked at 21.54 mph, fastest of all QB’s and faster than many WR’s and CB’s. This ranks as the 12th fastest RB in the NFL.
    3. He possesses the strongest arm strength in this year’s QB class.
    4. He is only 20 years old and has the highest ceiling in this year’s QB class.
    5. He is a bigger and younger version of Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray.
  2. Lance is a winner:
    1. N. Dakota State was 17-0 with Trey at QB.
    2. Completion percentage: 66.9 % (192 completions on 287 pass attempts) for 2,786 yards.
    3. Pass yards per attempt: 9.7.
    4. Pass TDs: 28 with zero interceptions.
    5. NFL passer rating: 130.8.
    6. Rushing attempts: 169 for 1,100 yards (6.5 yards per rush) for 14 TDs.
  3. Lance fits Shanahan’s Offense:
    1. He ran an NFL West Coast Offense with a FB and RB, taking snaps under Center and running Play Action plays.
    2. He is already very well refined with his back to the defense and either handing off to the RB/FB or executing pass plays.
    3. He has already shown the ability to distribute the ball to various receivers within the context of the offensive play.
    4. He certainly has the ability to run planned bootlegs or scramble to either run or pass on off-schedule plays where the pass rush disrupts the planned play.
  4. Knocks on Lance:
    1. He played only 17 games. Interestingly enough, Mac Jones played only 17 games, too. As a matter of fact, Jones was the 3rd string QB at Alabama behind two mobile QB’s, Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts.
    2. He played at N. Dakota State where top notched competition was lacking. Josh Allen, Buffalo’s star QB, played at Wyoming and Carson Wentz, Colt’s new QB, also played at N. Dakota State.
    3. He has poor footwork. Jimmy Garoppolo had bad footwork but under Shanahan, corrected it and lead the Niners to the Super Bowl in his only healthy season.

Justin Fields has many similar traits as Trey Lance and I would be just as happy if the selection is Fields. The key to both of these QB’s is that they have big and accurate arms and are MOBILE. I can’t stress enough how important mobility has become in the NFL. Every NFL team have good to great pass rushers who will disrupt planned plays so having a mobile QB has become a necessity.

The Mac Jones selection possibility is a smoke-screen. While Jones also had a perfect 17-0 record, he was playing behind an NFL-like Offense line and throwing to NFL-like WR’s. Jones is a quick thinker and is very good at reading defenses and going to his 2nd or 3rd WR’s if his primary WR is covered. These are traits that Shanahan treasures. The only knock that I have on Jones is that he is not mobile. Shanahan transformed Matt Ryan into an All-Pro QB and took the Falcons to the Super Bowl only to lose a big lead to Tom Brady. Under Shanahan, Garoppolo was good enough to take the Niners to the Super Bowl only to lose to a very mobile QB in Patrick Mahomes. While Tom Brady is the GOAT, he threw 3 INT’s in the NFC Championship game vs the Packers under pass rush duress. The Packers lost only because their CB, Kevin King, had the worst game of his career and unforgivably gave up 2 key TD’s to the Bucs.

The Lance choice makes a lot of sense for another reason based on decisions made by Lynch and Shanahan leading up to the big trade to move up to the 3rd pick. They seem committed to keep Garoppolo as their starting QB in 2021. They also signed Nate Sudfeld who is a 6 year vet, albeit a career backup. This signals that Lance (or Fields) will have a year to learn Shanahan’s Offense. This can, of course, change if Garoppolo gets hurt again or Lance develops much quicker than expected. If this happens, then trading Garoppolo becomes a possibility. The Niners have to pay Fred Warner and Nick Bosa big bucks soon so Jimmy’s days are surely numbered.

John Lynch has stated publicly that he regrets passing on drafting Patrick Mahomes. If they pass on Trey Lance or Justin Fields this year and both become stars for other teams, it will end the Lynch/Shanahan era in San Francisco. So, just like the Rocket Mortgage commercial, they not only have to be “pretty sure” but “certain” that their pick will lead the Niners to the promised land.

Last year, when the Niners signed LT Trent Williams, the LA Rams coach, Sean McVay, stated that he’s gonna drink a lot of beers. If the Niners draft Lance or Fields, McVay will have to order many more kegs of beer.

2021 Niners – Worst to First !!!

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After the Free Agency dust settled, the Niners accomplished the impossible and re-signed all of their key Free Agents. And, they signed key players from other teams in positions of need… Center Alex Mack from the Falcons and Edge Rusher Samson Ekuban from the Rams. Recalling Shanahan’s quote after the last game of last season, “I’m glad that the season is over… I just want all my players back next year!!!”. Mission accomplished !!! The Niners will go from worst to first this season and will certainly be in the hunt for the Lombardi.

And to top things off, they made a monster trade with the Dolphins to move up to the 3rd overall pick in this year’s draft. They have found their back-up QB for 2021 and their franchise QB going forward beginning 2022. The price they paid was high but not exorbitant.  They gave up only their 1st round pick this year and kept the rest of their 9 remaining picks to bring in new young blood. They also gave up their 1st and 3rd round picks in 2022 and a 1st round pick in 2023. As the Niners will be a top tier team, their future picks will surely be at the back end of the draft, so no big deal.

Re-capping the Free Agent re-signings and reviewing my MUST KEEP players in my 12/27/2020 blog, here is how things worked out:

Must Keep…

Trent Williams (LT) – $138.06 million over 6 years. The remarkable thing about this contract is that it is actually 2 separate deals, each of 3 year duration. The Niners can get out of the overall contract after 3 years. This is huge!!! Despite Patrick Mahomes’ best effort to recruit Trent to KC, the Niners got the job done to keep the best LT in the NFL for the rest of his career.

Kyle Juszczyk (FB) – $27 million over 5 years. The best FB in the business.

K’Waun Williams (CB) – $2.24 million for 1 year. Great value for a key piece to the Niner Defensive Backfield.

Ronald Blair (DE) – Blair was released most likely due to his severe knee injury. I was wrong in my prediction as a must keep player.

Ben Garland (C) – Garland was released as the Niners signed All-Pro Center Alex Mack, a Free Agent from the Falcons who played under Shanahan when he was the OC at Atlanta.

Kerry Hyder (DE) – Hyder signed with the Seahawks after the Niners signed Samson Ekuban, a rising Edge Rushing star from the Rams who couldn’t afford to keep him due to their salary cap situation.

Jason Verrett (CB) – $5.5 million for 1 year. Another great value as he is playing at an All Pro level. If he does become an All Pro, he makes another $1 million. Both Verrett and K’Waun are playing for a bigger pay day next year as it is assumed the salary cap will go up.

Ross Dwelley (TE) – $1 million for 1 year. Another great value as he has played very well as Kittle’s backup.

Taybor Pepper (LS) – $2 million over 2 years. Consistent Long Snappers are actually hard to find so they re-signed Pepper.

Jeff Wilson (RB) – $2.1 million for 1 year. A definite keeper as he has earned a hefty salary bump. I still recall when the Niners signed both Wilson and Dwelley as undrafted players 3 years ago. So happy that both of them have worked out.

Josh Rosen (QB) – $850 thousand for 1 year. After the Niners draft their future franchise QB, Rosen will become their 3rd string QB and could very easily be replaced.

Emmanuel Mosely (CB) – $10 million over 2 years. A wise decision to all but assure that E-Man will be the starting CB opposite Verrett.

Daniel Brunskill (T) – $850 thousand. A great re-signing as Brunskill is a very versatile player who can play T, G, or C.

D. J. Jones (DL) – $3.47 million for 1 year. A great re-signing as he is a stout nose tackle that frees up Bosa and Ekuban to get to the QB.

Marcel Harris (S) – $1 million for 1 year. Marcell is young and has plenty of room to grow.

Kevin Givens (DL) – $780 thousand for 1 year. He is a solid rotational player but is facing an assault charge in Baltimore so his future is cloudy at best.

Other Free Agents that the Niners re-signed that were pleasant surprises:

Jordan Willis (DE) – $1 million for 1 year. D-Line coach Kris Kocurek is the best in the business and sniffs out valuable players. He likes Willis.

Jaquiski Tartt (FS) – $1 million for 1 year. With Tarvarius Moore and Marcell Harris being both younger and having lower salaries, Tartt accepted a lower contract to stay with the team.

Robbie Gould (K) – $2.75 million over 2 years. Great for both sides, Robbie accepted a cap friendly contract and will continue to be “Good as Gould”.

How were the Niners able to find the funds to re-sign all of the key players and remain under the cap? Two major contract re-structures were a main reason.

  • Dee Ford (DE) – Restructured his contract to $24 million over 2 years saving $9.45 million in 2021.
  • Weston Richburg (C) – Restructured his contract to save $6.88 million in 2021. Richburg will most likely retire.

Onto the question of which QB will be selected by the Niners with the #3 pick in this year’s draft…

It is all but guaranteed that the Jags will select Trevor Lawrence with the #1 pick. The big question is what will the Jets do with their #2 pick…. They can stick with Sam Darnold as their QB and draft the best LT in the draft. If they do that, the Niners will have the pick of the rest of the best (Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones). The Jets can also stay at #2 and select one of the these QB’s, most likely Zack Wilson. Or, the Jets can trade down. The team that trades up will draft a QB. Regardless, the Niners are assured of getting one of the top 3 QB’s on the board. If Shanahan is dead set on one of these QB’s, the Niners can try to move up from #3 to #2 if the Jets are willing to bite. There isn’t much separating Wilson and Fields and Lance. Thus, I would be thrilled to have any of the three. Although some experts like Mac Jones as a Niner fit, my view of Jones is that he is a lot like Garoppolo. So why would they move all the way up to #3 to draft another Jimmy G.? They could of in all probability stay put and be able to draft Mac Jones at the #12 pick. Just recall that Shanahan did say that he is open to coaching a mobile QB. He has been facing Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson twice a year and lost to Mahomes in the SB. I’m sure that adding another dimension to his QB scheme is appealing to him.

Niner Faithfuls have every right to be excited to see their team in the coming years. Should be filled with a lot of excitement!!!

2021 Niners Blockbuster Trade with Jets – Draft Zack Wilson / Justin Fields !!!

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The Lynch and Shanahan strategy has been and will continue to be to win now while fielding a dominant team year after year. Sounds pretty basic but under the covers, this is very challenging in the NFL where salary caps determine how much any team can spend on players. It is significantly more complicated this year due to much lower revenues brought on by COVID thus reducing the salary cap. With the 2021 salary cap space set at $180 million, the Niners have about $16.5 million to play with. Free agency starts on March 17 and the NFL Draft takes place on April 29 – May 1. With limited dollars, the Niners must make hard decisions on which of their free agents whom they should retain, which free agents from other teams they should pursue, and whom to select in the draft.

Breaking News: The Niner cap space has been increased to $23.5 million (3/5/2021) due to players failing to meet contract incentives. This is fabulous news as it may allow the Niners to re-sign some key free agents!!!

Let’s start with the Niners 41 Free Agents. I wrote a blog at the end of December where I highlighted the Free Agents whom they should re-sign. With the salary cap, the reality is that they won’t be able to re-sign many of their key players. They will cut players to free up salary and perhaps make some eye opening trades to make even more salary room.

Jimmy Garoppolo will be one player who will not be traded or cut… at least not this year. He gives the Niners the best shot to win this year provided that he stays healthy.  Jimmy G staying healthy is a big “IF” given his injury history so it is imperative that the Niners add new blood as his back-up. There is a large list of veteran QB free agents but I’ll name three who could be possibilities for the Niners to sign… Ryan Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins who made $5.5 million last year, Andy Dalton from the Cowboys who made $3 million last year and finally Alex Smith from Washington who made $15 million last year. I think all three can be signed for less than $3 million for a year as they are nearing the end of their careers. They will still be more productive than Beathard or Mullens. Alex may not want to re-join the team who cut him but I mention him as he is the ultimate mentor for young QB’s. While with the Niners, he mentored Colin Kaepernick who took the Niners to the Super Bowl and while in Kansas City, he mentored Patrick Mahomes. As these vet QB’s are not long term answers, the Niners must draft a young QB this year who they can develop and perhaps become the starter next year. The top five QB’s in the draft are Trevor Lawrence, Zack Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones. Lawrence and Wilson will be picked in the top 3. According to the NFL Trade Value Chart, the 2nd overall pick is worth 2,600 points. The Niner’s 12th pick is worth 1,200 points. Highly unlikely, but in theory, the Niners could offer the Jets who own the 2nd pick their 12th pick this year, their 1st round pick next year and Arik Armstead then draft Zach Wilson or Justin Fields with the 2nd pick. It all depends on how the Jets feel about Sam Darnold as their franchise QB. It also depends on how much Robert Saleh values Armstead. While with the Niners, Saleh’s priority was to build a dominant front 4. With Quinnen Williams and Armstead, the Jets will make a good front 4 a dominant one. It’ll be a dream trade for the Niners as they will be able to draft their QB of the future while freeing up Armstead’s huge 5 year/$85 million contract. Also, with this trade, they may be able to re-sign both K’Waun Williams and Jason Verrett.

If the Jets want to draft their own QB, then perhaps the Niners can trade for Darnold. They could offer Armstead in a straight-up trade. If the Jets want to keep both their 2nd pick and Darnold, the Niners next best option is to stay at 12 and draft Mac Jones if Shanahan likes him. If Shanahan doesn’t like Jones, then they can explore the vet free agents that I mentioned above. At the #12 pick, assuming that Shanahan passes on Mac Jones, I’d like to see them pick TE Kyle Pitts from Florida if he is still on the board. With Pitts, Kittle, Deebo, Aiyuk, Mostert, Wilson and Juice (if they can re-sign him), Shanahan’s offense will be unstoppable. If Pitts is off the board, then CB’s Caleb Farley, Patrick Surtain II, or JayCee Horn should be the selection. Niners should draft another O-lineman but not in the first round. Some draft boards have the Niners selecting T Rashawn Slater from Northwestern at #12. While he is very good and has the versatility of being able to play Tackle, Guard or Center, QB and CB are higher priority.

Speaking of the Niner’s O-Line, they are in fairly decent shape. It’ll be great if they can re-sign LT Trent Williams, however, he’ll be asking in the neighborhood of $19 million per year for multiple years. Trent’s PFF rating of 91.9 was the best in the NFL. If he leaves for a better offer, then Slater may be the choice at #12. If Williams leaves, the Niners should then re-sign Ben Garland to play Center and Daniel Brunskill (PFF grade of 61.7 at Center) to play Left Tackle. Brunskill played 366 snaps at Tackle and allowed only 5 pressures and 1 sack. The Niners should also move RT Mike McGlinchey (PFF grade of 79.7) inside to RG and Slater to RT. McGlinchey is a great run blocker but a piss-poor pass blocker and a reason that Garoppolo can’t stay upright. Niners can look at Falcon’s C Alex Mack as a free agent signing also. He is the only free agent that I think makes sense for the Niners from a financial perspective. Mack is past his prime but can still play. He and Garland can hold down the Center spot and can back each other up in case of injury. The Niners will release C Weston Richburg who has had an injury plagued career as a Niner. They will save about $8 million in salary cap by releasing Richburg. Colton McKivitz was drafted in the 5th round last year who the Niners are high on. He got some playing time last year due to injuries and he didn’t impress me. Hoping that he has developed during the off season.

On the D-Line, the Niners will welcome back Nick Bosa with opened arms. Can’t say the same for Dee Ford who has become a big bust. They will certainly release Ford and eat his remaining salary. If they cut him prior to June 1, they will save $6.4 million in cap space and $16 million after June 1. If the Jets trade involving Arik Armstead comes to fruition, then I believe that they’ll be able to re-sign D.J. Jones, Kevin Givens and Ronald Blair along with Verrett and K’Waun and perhaps even Kerry Hyder who had an outstanding year for the Niners playing Dee Ford’s spot.

In another late breaking news which on the surface may seem insignificant, the Niners signed both S Marcell Harris and TE Ross Dwelley to 1 year extensions. Under the surface, what this may signal is that S Jaquiski Tartt and FB Kyle Juszczyk may not be extended. While Juice is the best FB in the business, the salary cap constraints may not allow the Niners to keep him. Verrett and K’Waun are higher priority. Dwelley played FB when Juice was hurt and did a decent job so this is what the Niners may be thinking.

While the Niners are limited to what they can do with $23.5 million in cap space money, there are plenty of other teams that are in cap space hell…

  • The Saints are $66.4 million over the cap.
  • The Rams are $27.6 million over the cap.
  • The  Chiefs are $18.6 million over the cap.
  • The Falcons are $15.9 million over the cap.
  • The Packers are $5.8 million over the cap.

The teams with cap space wiggle room…

  • The Seahawks have $11.1 million to work with.
  • The Cardinals have $17.3 million to work with.
  • The Buccaneers have $24 million to work with.

The teams that have the most cap space…

  • The Jaguars have $77.5 million to work with.
  • The Colts have $69.2 million to work with.
  • The Jets have $68 million to work with.
  • The Patriots have $62.8 million to work with.
  • The Washington Football Team have $39.6 million to work with.

In the NFC West, the Rams are capped out and won’t be able to improve. Additionally, they won’t have high draft picks for years to come. If the Rams don’t win this year, their decline will be steep in the following years. The Seahawks have some wiggle room but are on the hook to pay Jamal Adams who will be demanding at least $20 million per year over at least 5 years. There goes the Seahwks wiggle room. This is why Russell Wilson is so unhappy. He will continue to be the most sacked QB in the league despite his mobility. The Cardinals spent their wiggle room on J.J. Watts.

Of the teams that have the most cap space, the Colts and Jets are in great positions to improve the most. The Patriots will make some aggressive moves but they simply don’t have any solutions at QB. The Jags are the Jags… enough said.

The Buccaneers are in a great spot to be able to re-sign some of their free agents and will be in the hunt again.

The Saints best years are behind them.

While the Chiefs will be great again next year, I look for them to fall back into the pack the following years due to their cap space issues. They simply won’t be able to re-sign their star players surrounding Mahomes.

Plenty of news going on in the NFL with the impending free agency looming along with the NFL Draft. And the drama with DeShawn Watson and Russell Wilson will not go away any time soon.

So stay tuned to another episode of “As the World Turns” or in the case of Kyrie Irving, “As the World Flips”.

2021 NFL Teams Dumping on their QB’s or QB’s Dumping on their Teams

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The NFL off-season is full of speculation as there is nothing else to do. 31 of 32 teams are unhappy. How are they going to improve? Invariably, the discussion focuses on QB’s around the league. Following are what has happened or what is speculated to happen.

In 2016, the LA Rams traded with the Titans for the #1 overall pick to draft Jared Goff. The Rams gave up 2 1st round picks, 2 2nd round picks and 2 3rd round picks.

In 2021, the LA Rams gave up on Goff and traded him to the Lions for Matthew Stafford, age 33. They sent Goff along with 2 1st round picks and a 3rd round pick to the Lions.

So, at the end of the day, they spent 4 1st round picks, 2 2nd round picks, and 3 3rd round picks for Stafford.

Additionally, the Rams traded for CB Jalen Ramsey and paid 2 1st round picks and a 4th round pick and had to pay him a 5 year $105 million contract.

In 2016, the Eagles traded 2 1st round picks, a 2nd round pick, a 3rd round pick and a 4th round pick to the Browns for their #2 overall pick to draft Carson Wentz.

In 2021, the Eagles gave up on Wentz and traded him to the Colts for a 3rd round pick this year and a 2nd round pick next year.

They currently do not have any experienced QB’s on their roster. They drafted Jalen Hurts last year in the 2nd round and he may be a bust. So, they most likely will draft another QB again in the 1st round this year.

The Miami Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoa in the 1st round last year and he may be a bust. So, the Dolphins most likely will draft another QB again in the 1st round.

The Jets selected Sam Darnold in the 1st round in 2018. They will most likely draft another QB again in the 1st round this year. There is speculation that Darnold will be traded.

Dak Prescott wants a long term contract but Jerry Jones seems unwilling to give him what he deserves. Although, Jones gave DE DeMarcus Lawrence a 5 year $105 million contract, WR Amari Cooper a 5 year $100 million contract, LT Tyron Smith an 8 year $98 million contract and RB Zeke Elliott a 6 year $90 million contract, they are nowhere near a long term contract for Prescott.

DeShaun Watson wants to be traded.

Aaron Rodgers hasn’t gotten offensive weapons and isn’t happy. The Packers shockingly drafted QB Jordan Love in the 1st round last year… HUH ??? He hasn’t made it to the active roster yet so isn’t even good enough to be a back-up QB….

Russell Wilson is tired of being sacked and isn’t happy. Instead of beefing up a very bad O-Line, they traded for safety Jamal Adams and gave up 2 1st round picks,  a 3rd round pick and their Safety Bradley McDougal. Adams plays like a Linebacker and his pass coverage skills are average at best. Plus, he is looking for a big payday from the Seahawks who will have to cut salaries to make room for what he is asking. He will demand to be the top paid DB in the NFL.

Drew Brees will most likely retire so the Saints have Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. Can these two QB’s lead the Saints to the top?

Ben Roethlisberger will cost $41 million in cap space for the Steelers in 2021 and he looked his age last year. What will the Steelers do?

The Bears aren’t happy with Mitchell Trubisky. What will they do?

The Broncos aren’t happy with Drew Lock. What will they do?

The Panthers aren’t happy with Teddy Bridgewater. They want DeShaun and are willing to pay the moon for him.

The Washington Football Team is looking for a QB. They will surely cut Alex Smith as they won’t want to pay him $15 million this year. Since they cut Dwayne Haskins, their remaining QB is Taylor Heineke.

Do any teams want to take a risk with Cam Newton? Perhaps Washington as Rivera was Cam’s coach at Carolina.

And what will the Patriots do? They certainly won’t start the season with Stidham at QB.

This leaves us with Jimmy Garoppolo, the QB that the entire football media universe roasts as the worst QB in the NFC West. Let’s take a look at how the Niners performed last year in the NFC West with half their roster on IR. They beat the Rams twice, once with Garoppolo and once with Nick Mullens. They beat the Cardinals with C. J. Beathard and took the Cardinals out of Playoff contention. Although they lost to the Seahawks twice, C.J. Beathard had a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter before Russell Wilson carried them to a last minute win. And, Jared Goff, who the Rams banished, beat Russell Wilson in Seattle in the Playoffs. So, just how good are Wilson, Murray, and Stafford? Although we haven’t seen Stafford in the NFC West yet, he is 0-3 in Playoffs.

All of the so-called sports analyst experts state that the Niners should give away the farm to trade for DeShaun Watson. Peter King said that the Niners should trade 7 players for Watson including Fred Warner or Nick Bosa, 3 1st round picks and 3 2nd round picks. Watson is 1-2 in Playoff games. Additionally, in his 4 years with the Texans, his career win/loss record is 29-35. In the 4 years prior to Watson, the Texans were an identical 29-35 and 1-2 in Playoff games. Further, comparing Watson’s stats to Dak Prescott’s stats there isn’t much of a difference. Using the 2019 season stats when both QB’s played the entire season, Watson threw for 3,852 yards with 26 TD’s and a rating of 98. Prescott threw for 4,902 yards, with 30 TD’s and a rating of 99.7. Dak’s career win/loss record is 43-29.And surprise, surprise… in 2019, Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 3,978 yards with 27 TD’s and a rating of 102 and took the Niners to the Super Bowl. Garoppolo’s career win/loss record is 22-8. Just looking at these stats, Garoppolo is better than Prescott followed by a trailing Watson.

I have several points to make:

  1. The Upper tier teams are unhappy with their QB’s. Their goal is to win the Super Bowl so when they fail, they want to upgrade their QB. The Lower tier teams draft a QB every year or every other year instead of having a plan to make all areas of the team better.
  2. In the NFC West, the Rams and Seahawks bet the farm on a few impact players and expended all of their high draft picks. They are playing to win today. The Cardinals are on the right path as they are getting better each year. Lynch and Shanahan have the best plan as they value draft picks and mix in key veterans where needed. Last year was an extreme anomaly due to the high number of injuries to key players. Just remember what Shanahan said after the last game of the year when they lost to the Seahawks in the last minute… He said, “I’m glad the season is over. Next year, I just want all my players back”.

Niners – The Case to Keep Garoppolo

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In my previous post, I suggested that the best option for the Niners is to keep Jimmy G. and draft a QB as his back-up.

QB’s coming out of college need time to learn the Pro game and simply can’t take over as a rookie.

Here are the QB’s picked in the 1st round from 2015-2020.

2020

  • Joe Burrow (Bengals)
  • Tua Tagovailoa (Dolphins)
  • Justin Herbert (Chargers)
  • Jordan Love (Packers)

2019

  • Kyler Murray (Cardinals)
  • Daniel Jones (Giants)
  • Dwayne Haskins (Washington)

2018

  • Baker Mayfield (Browns)
  • Sam Darnold (Jets)
  • Josh Allen (Bills)
  • Josh Rosen (Cardinals)
  • Lamar Jackson (Ravens)

2017

  • Michell Trubisky (Bears)
  • Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs)
  • Deshaun Watson (Texans)

2016

  • Jared Goff (Rams)
  • Carson Wentz (Eagles)
  • Paxton Lynch (Broncos)

2015

  • Jameis Winston (Bucaneers)
  • Marcus Mariota (Titans)

No QB from the 2020 and 2019 draft are in this year’s Playoffs. Jordan Love hasn’t even played and Dwayne Haskins has been cut.

From the 2018 class, Baker Mayfield will be in his first Playoff game. Josh Allen made the playoffs last year but lost to DeShaun Watson (Texans) in Overtime. Allen is poised to go further this year. Lamar Jackson made the Playoffs last year but lost to the Titans in which he had a very bad game.

From the 2017 class, Patrick Mahomes won the Super Bowl last year. DeShaun Watson made the Playoffs last year but blew a 24-0 lead to the Chiefs. The Texans had only 4 wins this year.

From the 2016 class, Jared Goff made it to the Super Bowl in his 2nd year but has since regressed. The Eagles won the Super Bowl with back-up, Nick Foles as Carson Wentz was injured. Wentz had a good year last year but a horrible year this year and was benched.

From the 2015 class, Winston and Mariota were selected #1 and #2 overall but are backups now.

Paxton Lynch and Dwayne Haskins are out of the league and Josh Rosen was picked up by the Niners from the Bucaneer’s Practice Squad after being traded twice. The Niners picked up Rosen only after Nick Mullens was injured and they had Beathard as their only healthy QB.

So, out of 20 1st round QB picks since 2015, only Mahomes and Goff have made it to the Super Bowl and only Mahomes has won.

The chances that Lawrence, Fields, Wilson, Lance and Jones will lead their NFL teams to the Super Bowl in the next few years are slim to none.

Jimmy Garoppolo lead the Niners to the Super Bowl but was injured for most of this year. He will be in his 3rd year under Shanahan, knows Shanahan’s offense and is still in the prime of his career. Most of his team-mates from the Super Bowl team who were on IR this year will be back next year. Just remember that the Niners had a 10 point lean with 7 minutes to play in the Super Bowl. Had the Niner Defense held on, there wouldn’t even be a Jimmy G. controversy.

The Niners do need to draft a QB but not necessarily in the 1st round. A guy named Montana was selected in the 3rd round. Having said that, if Fields, Wilson or Lance is still on the board at #12 of the 1st round, the Niners should draft whoever is still available. They should NOT trade up to get any of these guys. The cost will be too high.

Case closed…

Niners – 2021 Draft Picks

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The Niners currently have 9 picks in the 2021 draft and could add a 10th as compensation if Robert Salah lands a head coaching job which is a certainty. They will need as many picks as they can get as the Niners have 41 free agents looking for new jobs. The Niners select #12 overall.

In my last post, I listed the 41 free agents and which ones Lynch and Shanahan should try to keep. In his final press conference of a disappointing year, Shanahan said that he is glad that the 2020 season is over and all he wants is to get all his players back for the 2021 season. The sad reality is that he won’t be able to keep many of the players on his current roster due to salary cap restrictions.

Thus, it is imperative that the Niners get as many draft picks as possible. I’m hoping that they do not try to move up in the draft costing them valuable picks. As good as this roster is, they’ll have to replace some key players in key positions to remain competitive.

They have the 12th pick in Round 1. Who they select will depend on who they can re-sign and which free agents they can potentially land from other teams. I won’t even try to address other teams’ free agents as they all will have large $ signs in front of their names.

Roster upgrade needs:

  • O-line: If they can’t re-sign LT Trent Williams, then LT becomes their highest priority. Even if they are able to re-sign Trent, the Niners must upgrade at Center and Right Guard. I like Ben Garland at either Center or Right Guard but he is on IR and becomes a free agent. I’m hoping that he recovers fully and they are able to re-sign him.  Daniel Brunskill is a versatile backup whom we should retain, Colton McKivitz is a rookie who needs to improve and Justin Skule simply is not the answer. I watched Ohio State dominate a very good Clemson defense. Wyatt Davis (Right Guard) and Josh Myers (Center) stood out. Also, Creed Humphrey (Center from Oklahoma) should be in the Niners shopping cart. All three are 1st round pick material but all three may be available to the Niners at #12. In terms of LT’s, Penei Sewell (Oregon) will be picked in the top 5, but Samuel Cosmi (Texas) and Alex Leatherwood (Alabama) will be available at #12. One last thing about the O-Line. Mike McGlinchy is an elite run blocker but a piss-poor pass protection blocker. If he doesn’t improve his pass blocking, the likelihood of more QB injuries will remain high.
  • Corner Backs: Even if the Niners can re-sign Jason Verrett, Emanuel Moseley and K-Wuan Williams, the CB position remains a critical need as they are in a division with DeAndre Hopkins, DK Metcalf, and Cooper Kupp. The top three CB’s in the draft are Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech), Patrick Surtain III (Alabama), and Jaycee Horn (South Carolina). All three will be picked in the 1st round. One or two of them may fall to the Niners at #12.
  • Edge: If the Niners can’t retain Kerry Hyder, then this position may become their highest priority. The Niners must make a decision on Dee Ford. He is a dominant player when he plays but he has been injured more often than he has played. Gregory Rousseau (Miami) stands out and may be available at #12.
  • Safety: Jaquiski Tartt most likely played his last game as a Niner. With Jimmie Ward, Tarvarious Moore, and Marcel Harris, this group looks fairly solid. But, if the Niners loose either Moore or Harris to free agency, finding another Safety becomes very important. There isn’t an impact safety in this year’s draft so the Niners can look for a diamond in the rough with a lower round pick.
  • Backup QB: After further assessment of Jimmy Garoppolo, he is the best option as the Niner QB going forward. In a previous post, I predicted that Alex Smith can come back to the Niners and hold down the fort while he trains the next franchise QB that the Niners draft. After all, Alex trained Kaepernick and Mahomes who both became Super Bowl QB’s. Nothing can be ruled out. There are already 6 head coaching vacancies. Every new coach will want to bring in their guy so there could be a lot of QB movements. I’m particularly interested to see what happens with Sam Darnold if the new Jets coach selects Justin Fields or Zach Wilson with their #2 pick. Darnold is a very good young QB having a low salary who was not given the chance to prove himself playing for a very bad organization. Also, every “elite” QB in the league has had some mediocre performances this year (including the old ones like Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger, and Rivers) so there could be some surprising QB movements. Jimmy G has a 22-8 record as a Niner starter and he took them to the Super Bowl last year. The Niners are 6-24 with Mullens and Beathard. While Jimmy G is expensive, his salary is in the middle of the pack for QB’s. The more worry-some issue with Jimmy G is that he has missed 30 games due to injuries. This is the reason that I feel that upgrading the O-line is a top priority for the Niners. Both Shanahan and Lynch have publically said that Jimmy is their QB going forward. But nothing is a guarantee. If Bill Belichick or Robert Saleh or any other team with a new coach offers the Niners a deal that they can’t refuse for Jimmy G., they may pull the trigger. The top tier QB’s in this year’s draft will most likely be gone before the #12 pick. Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson will all be drafted in the top 10 while there is a possibility that Trey Lance and Mac Jones may be available.  As I feel the O-Line, CB and Edge are higher priority, I would not draft a QB with the 12th pick unless Zach Wilson or perhaps Trey Lance falls to #12. If these top tier QB’s are gone by 12, then I like QB Jamie Newman (Georgia) as a third round pick if he is still there. Newman opted out of playing this year due to COVID. He is a mobile QB with a big arm. Shanahan did say that he may want to shift to a QB like Kyler Murray and Russel Wilson as they present so many problems for defenses.

So, hold on tight as free agency signings will have a direct impact on what the Niners do in the draft. My only hope is that they hang onto all of their 10 picks instead of packaging a lot of valuable picks to move up and draft a QB who may or not work out. Just ask the Washington Football Team who drafted Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State) with the 15th overall pick in the 2019 draft. They released him this year…

Niners – 2021 Free Agents

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Niners have 41… yes count ‘em, 41 Free Agents next year.

Following are the list of Free Agents. I grouped them into three categories: must keep, sign only if they accept minimum offers and who to let go.

Must Keep…

Trent Williams (LT) – $13.6 million… Fair Value approx $19 million… Trent wants to finish his career as a Niner. A must sign player. Should work out a new salary that is cap friendly.

Kyle Juszczyk (FB) – $5.2 million… Should work out a new salary that is cap friendly.

K’Waun Williams (CB) – $3 million… One of the better slot CB’s in the league. Must re-sign.

Ronald Blair (DE) – $2.3 million… He has not recovered from last year’s torn ACL. If they can sign him to a cap friendly salary, keep him.

Ben Garland (C) – $2 million… Ben is a keeper and hopefully they can reach an agreement beneficial to both sides.

Kerry Hyder (DE) – $1.5 million… Kerry had a break out year and has a career high 8.5 sacks this year. He is a keeper and the Niners should pay his market value.

Jason Verrett (CB) – $1 million… Jason is a high priority to resign. He has finally come back from multiple injuries and has had a great season.

Ross Dwelley (TE) – $750 thousand… The Niners should try to resign him as he has played very well as Kittle’s backup.

Taybor Pepper (LS) – $750 thousand… Consistent Long Snappers are actually hard to find. They should try to resign him at the current salary.

Jeff Wilson (RB) – $750 thousand… A definite keeper as he has earned a hefty salary bump. I still recall when the Niners signed both Wilson and Dwelley as undrafted players 3 years ago. So happy that both of them have worked out.

Josh Rosen (QB) – $750 thousand… Josh was the 10th overall draft pick by the Cardinals in 2018. He hasn’t yet proven himself after being traded to the Dolphins, then winding up on the practice squad for the Bucaneers. The Niners signed him after Nick Mullens injured his elbow last week. If Shanahan can develop him, he could be a viable backup along with Beathard.

Emmanuel Mosely (CB) – $675 thousand… A definite keeper and a priority to resign.

Daniel Brunskill (T) – $675 thousand… A versatile player who can play T, G, or C. A definite keeper.

D. J. Jones (DL) – $637 thousand… A definite keeper. Offer him what the market dictates.

Marcel Harris (S) – $615 thousand… Marcell is a  definite keeper and a possible replacement for Tartt.

Kevin Givens (DL) – $540 thousand… A definite keeper as he is a solid rotational player.

Keep Only If They Accept Minimum Offer…

Jordan Reed (TE) – $1 million… If the Niners can resign Reed at the same $1 million contract, they should do it.

Ahkello Witherspoon (CB) – $971 thousand… The Niners should keep him as a backup only at the current salary. Otherwise, they should let him find a new team.

Jamar Taylor (CB) – $910 thousand… He showed some promise before getting injured. Niners should try to resign him close to his current salary.

Dion Jordan (DE) – $910 thousand. Dion was the 3rd overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Dolphins. He never lived up to expectations. The Niners signed him after suffering so many injuries and he showed flashes. The Niners should try to resign him close to his current salary and let him compete for a job. Much lower priority than resigning Kerry Hyder.

Jordan Willis (DE) – $904 thouand… Jordan was a 3rd round pick by the Bengals and traded to the Jets prior to being traded to the Niners. It was a bargain for the Niners as they sent a 6th round 2022 pick to the Jets for their 7th round pick in 2021 along with Willis. Try to sign him for the minimum and let him fight for a job.

C.J.  Beathard (QB) – $882 thousand… The Niners need some continuity at the backup QB position. They should keep C. J. over Mullens and offer him a minimum contract.

Joe Walker (ILB) – $825 thousand… Keep only if he is willing to sign a minimum contract.

Ken Webster (CB) – $675 thousand… Offer him the minimum and if he signs, let him compete for a job.

River Cracraft (WR) – $675 thousand… Offer him the minimum and if he signs, let him compete for a job.

Trent Taylor (WR) – $650 thousand… Trent has never regained his mojo after breaking his foot last year. Offer him the minimum and if he signs, let him compete for a job.

JaMychal Hasty (RB) – $610 thousand… Offer him the minimum and if he signs, let him compete for a job.

Let ‘Em Go…

Richard Sherman (CB) – $9 million… Still one of the best CB’s in the league but simply can’t afford him. Drafting a CB is a high priority.

Soloman Thomas (DL) – $7 million… He was coming on but unfortunately he tore his ACL. Should let him find a new home.

Jaquiski Tartt (FS) – $6.5 million… With Tarvarius Moore and Marcell Harris being both younger and having lower salaries, Tartt will not be offered a new contract.

Robbie Gould (K) – $4.8 million… Sadly, the Niners should look for a new place kicker. Robbie has been “Good as Gould” but at 38 years old, a new, younger and less costly kicker is needed.

Tevin Coleman (RB) – $4.3 million… Tevin will not be offered a new contract.

Kendrick Bourne (WR) – $3.3 million… This is a tough call has he shows flashes of brilliance but lacks consistency. With so many good WR’s available in the draft, I would say let him go.

Tom Compton (G) – $2.8 million… Let him go.

Ezekieh Ansah (DE) – $1.5 million… Zeke was a good signing at the time when the Niners had so many injuries. But he got injured in his first game as a Niner. He won’t be offered a new contract with Nick Bosa coming back.

Jerick McKinnon (RB) – $1.2 million… Jerick never panned out as the game breaker that Shanahan envisioned. He never found the exposiveness after being out 2 years with his torn ACL. He won’t be offered a new contract.

Tony Bergstrom (C) – $1 million… He’ll be gone.

Dontae Johnson (CB) – $910 thousand… Let him go.

Hroniss Grasu (C) – $910 thousand… Let him go.

Nick Mullens (QB) – $750 thousand… Inconsistency and turnovers have cost Nick his job.

Austin Walter (RB) – $610 thousand… Let him go.

By releasing the “Let ‘Em Go” players, the Niners save $44.7 million which may be enough to sign all of the “Must Keep” players. If it isn’t enough, simply do not offer even the minimum for players in the Bubble.

Now, onto players who are not Free Agents next year and have huge Salary Cap hits:

  • Jimmy Garoppolo (QB) – $26 million… He is expensive but he is also the best option for Shanahan. There is a lot of chatter about moving away from Jimmy G. but they have invested a lot of time and money into Jimmy. He is a very good QB but he has also shown that he is injury prone. The Niners may add another QB through the draft who they can develop along with Rosen. I just don’t see them bringing in another high priced veteran unless the price is right and that Vet fits into Shanahan’s scheme.
  • Dee Ford (DE) – $6.4 million… Ford has become way too expensive given that he has been injured more often than he has played. If they can come to a mutual agreement to restructure his contract, that will be ideal. The contract must have an injury clause that is favorable to the Niners.
  • Weston Richburg (C) – $4.4 million… They may release him outright  and eat his remaining salary. But, if he can prove that he is 100% healthy and be willing to restructure his contract to be more Cap friendly, he may be worth keeping.

The main reason that the Niners must consider all options for Garoppolo, Ford and Richburg is that they must make room to reward Deebo Samuel, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner and Raheem Mostert. Discussions for big contract extensions for these impact players must take place next year. With the current salary cap restrictions which will get worse due to COVID reducing revenue, they’ll have to come up with some innovative solutions.