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Contract Speculation and Breakdown: San Francisco 49ers

Contract Speculation and Breakdown: San Francisco 49ers

By: Matt “TheJerk” Morrison (@DynastyJerk)

Welcome back and thank you for reading. Another fantastic Wednesday has brought us another Dynasty Owner Contract article. Before I start with the contract talk, I want to briefly address the trade rumors that have come to light over the past couple of days. Word on the street is that Deshaun Watson is unhappy in his current situation. Actually, at this point I think they are more than rumors. Chris Mortenson sent out a series of Tweets on 1/10/21 that essentially stated Watson is unhappy with his current team, it’s stance on social justice issues and it’s hiring practices. Watson also has a no trade clause so he would be able to “control” his fate if it came down to a trade.

Now, I don’t like to speculate on rumors and gossip, but this seems to be something more than that. Watson was reportedly upset following the DeAndre Hopkins trade in early 2020, and that anger, apparently, has grown. I’m going to leave this conversation right here because we really don’t have any facts to react on. What I will say is that Watson (4 years, $39,000,000 per year) owners should keep a close eye on this situation and be prepared that he may not play for the Texans in 2021.

Contract Speculation

Today we will discuss the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers have a plethora of expiring contracts. In all, they will have to make decisions about 38 free agents, but for our purposes at DO they have four unrestricted free agents (UFA), three restricted free agents (RFA) and one exclusive-rights free agent (ERFA). The 49ers actually have the most Dynasty Owner “rosterable” free agents of any team in the NFL. I’m going to work through a few of these players one at a time…

Tevin Coleman

First up, we have veteran running back Tevin Coleman. Coleman is 27 years old, and he just finished a two-year contract worth $4,250,000 per year. This contract once looked like a steal for the 49ers in 2019, but it has derailed over last season. Coleman injured his knee in a Week 2 win against the Jets, and after that injury, he only received 11 touches for the rest of the season. Coleman re-injured the same knee in Week 8, and he was unable to see the field much after that. I don’t expect Coleman back in San Francisco given the emergence of Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr.  There is no doubt in my mind that Coleman will demand a lower salary than his previous one. Spotrac currently has his “Calculated Market Value” at $3.3 million per year. I can’t disagree with this assessment, and it would be tough to trust Coleman given his lackluster 2021 season.

Kendrick Bourne

Kendrick Bourne is an UFA that I could actually see sticking around for the 49ers. He is 25 years old and finished a single year contract worth 3.26 million dollars. It is unlikely he will make more than that amount moving forward. While he has been a reliable red zone target and possession receiver, he has not shown the top-level volume or skill to be a high paid guy. Look for Bourne to receive a deal around 2 years – $3,000,000 per year.

Jerick McKinnon, Jeff Wilson Jr. and JaMychal Hasty

The final three players I’d like to talk about are all running backs. They are: Jerick McKinnon, Jeff Wilson Jr, and JaMychal Hasty. The career for McKinnon has been a disappointing one. He came out of Georgia Southern in 2014 as one of the most athletic and talented running backs for the class. (That actually may not be saying much as these are the running backs taken ahead of McKinnon); Bishop Sankey, Jeremy Hill, Carlos Hyde, Charles Sims, Tre Mason and Terrance West.

None of these backs (barring Hyde) has had a particularly good career. The fact remains:  McKinnon has been injury plagued especially over the past three seasons. As an UFA, look for McKinnon to find a new home this offseason and to receive a contract comparable to his current ($1,160,000 per year).

I think the path for Jeff Wilson and JaMychal Hasty to make the team are much easier and let me explain why. Jeff Wilson is a restricted free agent coming into 2021. JaMychal Hasty is an exclusive rights free agent. Let me first breakdown what these designations mean. A restricted free agent includes any NFL player that had served for three years and that has an expiring contract. A RFA has received a “qualifying” offer from his current team, but he is free to explore other teams as well. If another team gives him a better offer, his current team is allowed time to give a matching or better offer with the hopes of retaining that player. (This could be referred to as “first rights of refusal”).

This is a very simplified way of explaining it, but for our purposes that’s the summary. Wilson is an RFA. My anticipation is that the 49ers will retain him at least for next year. He will still post a low contract and hopefully, for his owners, carry a productive 2020 season over into 2021. JaMychal Hasty is a little more complicated. Hasty is an ERFA. An ERFA is any player that has not accrued two years of service in the NFL and has an expiring contract. These types of free agents are almost always undrafted rookies. Hasty fits that description, and being an ERFA, he really has no options. The 49ers are able to sign him to a one-year tender for slightly more than their original contract. ERFA have no leverage to meet or sign with other teams. Essentially, expect Hasty to be back in SF next year with a very similar contract.

Contract Breakdown

You know the drill. I’m going to break down two current 49ers contracts and give you some player comparisons as well. Before I tell you, which player this is about, let me give you a blind contract comparison…

Who would you rather own in Dynasty Owner?

 AgePer YearYears Remaining2020 Fantasy Points
Player A22$3,132,8353185
Player B23$2,792,8292212
Swipe for more on mobile.

All things considered; these are two very comparable players. I’ll tell you that they are both wide receivers if you haven’t guessed that yet. (It may have been obvious from their contracts.). As you can also see, Player A (Alpha) seems to have been a rookie last year while it’s safe to assume Player B (Bravo) was a rookie in 2019. Maybe you’d like to take a look at their raw stats in 2020 to decide who you want…

 TargetsReceptionsYardsYds/RecTotal Touchdowns
Player A966074712.47
Player B118661,19318.14
Swipe for more on mobile.

Okay, this isn’t looking much better for Alpha, is it?  Bravo outperformed Alpha in every statistic except touchdowns and what looks to be catch percentage. However, the question remains…which player would you rather own knowing that Bravo has one less year on his very favorable contract? 

My answer would still be Bravo. I’ll take (what seems to be) the better player for one less year. Let me drop one final statistic on you and see if it changes your mind. Bravo missed one game last season. It’s looking better and better for him isn’t it?  Well, Alpha missed four games last season. In fact, this is what each of their full season stats would have been…

 TargetsReceptionsYardsYds/RecTotal Touchdowns
Player A1288099612.49
Player B125701,27218.14
Swipe for more on mobile.

Quite a bit closer than we originally thought, right?  In the end, I would still take Bravo due to the high yardage and yards per reception, but I wouldn’t blame you if you chose Alpha.

Well, Alpha is Brandon Aiyuk and Bravo is D.J. Moore. Again, I would prefer to own Moore, but this comp hopefully showed how quietly dominant Aiyuk’s season was. While I can’t say that he is as much a value as Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb or maybe even Chase Claypool, he is still a value. These stats are somewhat misleading because George Kittle was missing from the majority of Aiyuk’s dominance.

He shouldn’t be blamed for that though. I predict that the Sophomore leap that Aiyuk makes in 2021 will outweigh the return of Kittle into the lineup. Hold Aiyuk if you own him. If you don’t, I’d be willing to pay a 2021 high 2nd for him.

George Kittle

Speaking of Kittle, he is the second contract we are going to analyze. George Kittle is 27 years old, and he was set to be a free agent this offseason after he finished a 4-year contract worth a little under $700,000 per year. As we all know, Kittle signed a 5 year – $75,000,000 contract with San Francisco in August 2020. This puts him at $15,000,000 per year and makes him the highest paid tight end in the NFL. Breaking down Kittle’s contract is a tough endeavor as he missed exactly half of the 2020 season. Regardless, we have enough data over last year and the 2019 season to do some player comparisons with him. Let’s assume that Kittle played every game over the last two seasons, and let’s assume that he would have been just as productive over his missed games as he was in his games played. This is what his fantasy production would have looked like…

George KittleRecYardsTouchdownsFantasy Points
2019 Full Season Pace971,2036253.1
2020 Full Season Pace961,2684250.2
Swipe for more on mobile.

Okay, so we’ve established that Kittle is amazingly consistent and we know that he ranks as a Top 3 tight end, but how does his fantasy points per game and fantasy points per dynasty dollar rank against his peers. This is how…

 2021 Salary2020 FP (Full Season Pace)2021 Projected DD/FP
George Kittle$15,000,000250.2$59,952
Travis Kelce$14,312,500335.8$42,622
Austin Hooper$10,500,000139.7$75,161
Jimmy Graham$8,000,000163$49,080
Darren Waller$7,450,000282.6$26,362
Swipe for more on mobile.

Darren Waller is clearly the value here as he makes roughly half as much as Kittle and Kelce do. Kittle’s DD/FP are, therefore, not going to reflect his value. When taking into account position scarcity and relatively cheap contracts compared to top tier wide receivers, Kittle (and Kelce) become league winners even above $14,000,000 per year. Yes, he is expensive to own. Yes, you may need to make room on your roster to fit in his new salary. Yes, you need to find a way to make it happen. Kittle, Kelce and Waller are so much more valuable at their position than any other player. Their salaries need to be considered, of course, but Owners need to see that $15,000,000 per year for Kittle is not comparable to $16,050,000 per year for Adam Thielen. The top producing tight end will always be the greater value with a similar sized contract.

Thank you for reading and keep an eye out for my video series that will highlight this article. Please follow us on Twitter @DynastyOwner and subscribe to Dynasty Owner on YouTube. Take care and be safe.

TheJerk

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