Future of 49ers rests in luck, preparation and result of the Patriots' past


Future of 49ers rests in luck, preparation and result of the Patriots' past

When the Jimmy Garoppolo story is finally told, and we clearly don’t know how it ends, we know how it will begin.
With palace intrigues.
The much-discussed Seth Wickersham piece in ESPN that explains the growing tensions within New England’s Trilateral Commission  guides us through a lot of the internecine resentments between Bob Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and is a classic tale of men who have frankly gotten sick of each other exceeding their once clearly-drawn relationship limits. It’s an age-old story – power, intrigue, moves and countermoves, truths and deceptions, screwings and counterscrewings – you know, influential human beings being influential human beings.
And now we know why Garoppolo became a 49er at such a discounted price. He was a sword-and-shield set in New England, and his reward for laying low through all the fragmentation grenades was to be sent by Belichick to a place where both he and Belichick’s friends could be rewarded.
Now we don’t yet know how important Garoppolo will be to 49er history; the number of people already out over their skis on him would make for the largest snowball of human wreckage in alpine sports history. He could be the next Joe Montana, the next Steve Young, the next Alex Smith, or even the next Colin Kaepernick (non-political division), and only the events will provide the answer.
But he got here only because John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan kept up relationships with the normally aloof Belichick. After all, Belichick could have called anyone on any team, and he could have asked for much more than a lone second-round draft choice.
Before you start imagining that I am describing Lynch and Shanahan as merely lucky, well, I am. But luck is good, and luck comes with those who prepare to benefit from it. Luck is a great thing, and I highly recommend it to anyone.
But it is good to understand more fully that the future of the 49ers is in significant part the result of the past of the Patriots. Neither Kraft nor Belichick nor Brady are getting any younger, and all dynasties collapse beneath the weight of the baggage they take on.
For the moment then, Jimmy Garoppolo’s story is more about the cracks in the New England foundation rather than the cement in Santa Clara. The rest of it remains a matter for tomorrow.

Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts


Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

The 49ers recently re-signed eight of the 10 players who finished the season on the team’s practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who was not among the first wave of 49ers signings to 2018 contracts, signed Wednesday with the Indianapolis Colts, ending his three-season association with the organization.

Smelter was one of general manager Trent Baalke’s redshirt draft picks. The team selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft despite a torn ACL that ended his final season at Georgia Tech.

Smelter spent his first season on an injured list. He was waived at the beginning of the past two seasons, finishing both years on the 49ers’ practice squad. Smelter appeared in two games in 2016 and caught one pass for 23 yards.

Last season, the 49ers signed wide receivers Louis Murphy and Max McCaffrey to spots on the 53-man roster instead of Smelter, who remained on the practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Carter, who also spent the entire season on the practice squad, was signed recently to the team’s 90-man roster.

Others who finished the season on the 49ers practice squad to remain on the team’s offseason roster are: quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Cole Wick, offensive linemen Andrew Lauderdale and Pace Murphy, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, and defensive backs Trovon Reed and Channing Stribling.

The 49ers also signed fullback Malcolm Johnson, who spent last season on injured reserve with the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson appeared in 19 games over the 2015 and ’16 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was a sixth-round draft pick in ’15.

Offensive linemen Cameron Hunt, who finished the season on the 49ers’ practice squad, remains unsigned. Guard JP Flynn is also unsigned. He sustained a torn patellar tendon in November and underwent surgery that was expected to keep him out up to nine months.

An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations


An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations

If the 49ers and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are unable to reach a multi-year contract extension by March 6, the 49ers have no other choice but to designate him as their franchise player.

The estimated one-year salary for the franchise tag would be $23.307 million, according to former NFL agent Joel Corry, whose work now appears at CBS Sports. (That is assuming a 2018 league-wide salary cap of $178.1 million per team.)

There is a lot to consider for both sides as they look to enter into a long-term contract. Corry said if a deal is struck, he would expect it to be in the neighborhood of Derek Carr’s five-year, $125 million deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason.

“And then there’s the other dynamic, which I would not undersell or I think may not be appreciated as much as it should be,” Corry said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “(Garoppolo’s agent) Don Yee has a reputation – no fault of his own – of doing team-friendly deals.”

Yee also represents New England quarterback Tom Brady, whose average of $20.5 million annual pay ranks 15th among NFL quarterbacks. Brady is underpaid by design, Corry said, because one of the great quarterbacks of all-time realizes it helps the Patriots to maintain a strong supporting cast.

“That’s because Tom Brady dictates, ‘I want to do something good for the team, take less money so we can improve the roster to win Super Bowls.’ That’s not Don Yee who wants to do that,” Corry said.

“The agent works for the player, so he’s executing Tom Brady’s wishes. But he gets that held against him in recruiting. So this is his opportunity to erase that perception if Garoppolo allows him to do his job and gives him latitude to strike the deal that he feels is appropriate.”

For more on the potential negotiating strategies of both sides, listen here to the 49ers Insider Podcast.