5 San Francisco 49ers Storylines to Follow Leading Up to Free Agency
49ers Storylines To Keep An Eye on Up to Free Agency
With the NFL Combine having concluded and free agency set to begin on Mar. 11, there are various stories and rumors surrounding every team, regardless of where they finished the 2013 season. Teams have been extremely busy evaluating what positions they need to address and seeing which free agents or players in this year’s draft can help fill those needs all while keeping their salary cap restrictions in mind.
The San Francisco 49ers lost the NFC Championship game 23-17 last season to the eventual Super Bowl Champions Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers have gone to the last three NFC Championship games, winning one (San Francisco lost to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII in 2013).
The success the 49ers have enjoyed recently does not mean they are immune from having issues this offseason. Some teams are better equipped to handle issues/distractions (i.e. New England Patriots) than others, but every team has rumors/issues surrounding it in the offseason. That statement being true is what makes the NFL and our favorite teams worth following in the offseason.
Sometimes stories and rumors surrounding a team are of the team’s own doing, and other times it’s because something was erroneously reported in the media. Sometimes it is a combination, but no matter what, every single NFL team has storylines to follow this offseason.
What does a team that has been to the last three NFC Championship games (and one Super Bowl) like the 49ers have to worry about this offseason? What do the 49ers have to do to get over the hump to win a Super Bowl? Read on to see five 49ers storylines to follow this offseason.
5. The New Stadium
It’s like they say; out with the old, in with the new. The 2013 season was the last one for Candlestick Park. San Francisco’s new stadium, being built in Santa Clara, is about 80 percent complete. This technically doesn’t have anything to do with player/front office personnel, but whether the stadium will be completed on time for the 2014 season (it currently is on track) is something to keep an eye on this offseason.
4. What will Happen to Free Agent RB Anthony Dixon?
Technically free agency does not begin until Mar. 11, but we all know tampering (aka talking to players) has already begun. In addition to that, free agents can now try to market themselves via social media, as Dixon did on Twitter recently. The 49ers could re-sign Dixon, but with all of the running backs they currently have on the roster, I believe Dixon will be wearing another uniform next season. I’m just not sure if Dixon will be suiting up at running back or only as a special teamer. This is something to keep an eye on throughout the offseason and free agency.
3. QB Colin Kaepernick’s Contract
The 49ers are currently trying to work out a long-term deal with the guy who jettisoned Alex Smith to the bench (first due to a concussion) and then out of town. Kaepernick is 26 years old and is 17-6 as a starter. Kaepernick is due a base salary of $973,766 in 2014. Various media reports state he is looking for a contract worth $18 million per year, similar to the contracts of Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo and Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler. I imagine the 49ers want to get a deal done with Kaepernick, and it would go a long way towards changing the current tone of the 49ers organization, which is tension filled thanks to the Jim Harbaugh/Trent Baalke feud. I’m just not sure Kaepernick is worth $18 million per year.
2. The Relationship between Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and the Front Office
The relationship between Harbaugh and GM Baalke is acrimonious at the moment. This issue came to a head when it became public knowledge that the 49ers were in talks with the Cleveland Browns to trade Harbaugh to Cleveland for draft picks. Now Harbaugh and Baalke are barely speaking, and that is no way to enter free agency. Harbaugh may have a tough personality at times, but the 49ers have been to the NFC Championship game (and one Super Bowl) in his first three seasons after not having been to the NFC Championship game since 1997. Harbaugh not being the head coach of the 49ers in 2014 is almost unthinkable, but with the animosity being displayed by him and the 49ers front office, anything is possible.
1. The Relationship between Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and the Players
According to reports made this week by Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, Harbaugh’s “act has worn thin” among multiple members of the 49ers locker room. While Harbaugh is a really good coach and has proven to be a winner in the NFL, this issue needs to be resolved because it will be highly exacerbated if the 49ers struggle at any point during the season.