JVM: San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers have made impressive runs deep into the playoffs the past few years thanks to players exceeding their contract values which Jeff Deeney reviews here.

| 3 years ago

JVM: San Francisco 49ers

2013-JVM-SFIn this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is hammering into the value of players. To us it’s a “Performance Based Value” number, telling you what players were worth (by our grading) in 2013. You can read about the work we’ve done to create it here, but in short:

• It’s solely about what a player did on the field in 2013
• Players are grouped by positions so their play essentially earns them a portion of the positional salary pool
• It’s all about cap hits (these values are approximate)

Here are 2013′s most undervalued and overvalued San Francisco 49ers:

(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)



1. Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback

Kaepernick heading this list is not a surprise considering the signal caller is still on his rookie contract. Without his primary target in Michael Crabtree, Kaepernick struggled out of the gate including a three game stretch in Weeks 2 through 4 where he had a combined -11.0 overall grade. However, he picked up steam as the season went along, leading the 49ers to a seven game win streak to close the season while earning a +9.8 overall grade in the process. Kaepernick’s 2014 salary is under a million dollars with just over a $1.6 million cap hit, so unless he and the 49ers can agree on an extension in the offseason, he’ll likely land near the top of this list again in 2014.

2013 Cap Hit: $1.4m
2013 Performance Based Value: $8.3m
Value Differential: +$6.9m

2. Joe Staley, Left Tackle

Last season’s most undervalued 49er also proved to be a bargain in 2013. Staley was our top ranked tackle in 2012 and was on his way to potentially defending his title before suffering a knee injury in Week 13 against the Rams. He did not miss a game but was not his usual dominant self after that, earning a +2.2 overall grade and allowing 8 of his 20 pressures the final four weeks after boasting a +25.5 overall grade prior to going down.

2013 Cap Hit: $2.8m
2013 Performance Based Value: $8.2m
Value Differential: +$5.4m

3. NaVorro Bowman, Inside Linebacker

Arguably the team MVP in 2013, Bowman finished the season as our top-ranked inside linebacker with a +20.0 grade. Not only solid against the run and in coverage, Bowman also ranked third in our Pass Rush Productivity Rating for inside linebackers, racking up 18 pressures in just 73 pass rushes on the year. To top it off Bowman made the play of the year, closing out Candlestick Park in style with his pick-six against the Falcons launching the 49ers into the postseason.

2013 Cap Hit: $3.1m
2013 Performance Based Value: $7.8m
Value Differential: +$4.7m

4. Tramaine Brock, CB – Cap: $2.1m, PBV: $6.1m, Value Differential: +$4.0m

5. Aldon Smith, ED– Cap: $3.9m, PBV: $7.5m, Value Differential: +$3.6m

6. Patrick Willis, ILB – Cap: $2.4m, PBV: $5.9m, Value Differential: +$3.5m

7. Donte Whitner, S – Cap: $4.9m, PBV: $7.2m, Value Differential: +$2.2m

8. Eric Reid, S – Cap: $1.5m, PBV: $3.5m, Value Differential: +$2.0m

9. Anquan Boldin, WR – Cap: $6.0m, PBV: $7.6m, Value Differential: +$1.6m

10. Corey Lemonier, ED – Cap: $540k, PBV: $1.9m, Value Differential: +$1.4m



1. Carlos Rogers, Cornerback

It’s not a shock that the team’s most obvious potential cap casualty this offseason also happens to be at the top of our overvalued list. Rogers had a -7.0 coverage grade on the year, and while his numbers in the slot were adequate (11.6 Coverage Snaps Per Reception, 1.05 Yards Per Coverage Snap) he struggled when lined up outside (9.1 Coverage Snaps Per Reception, 1.31 Yards Per Coverage Snap). It’s hard to see him returning to the 49ers in 2014 unless he agrees to a drastic pay cut.

2013 Cap Hit: $7.3m
2013 Performance Based Value: $979k
Value Differential: -$6.4m

2. Michael Crabtree, Wide Receiver*

Crabtree lands on this list primarily due to the fact he missed the first 11 games of the season after tearing an Achilles in the offseason. He had a -1.0 grade in his five regular season games, which was primarily dragged down by a -2.4 penalty grade, where Crabtree was flagged four times in those five weeks.

2013 Cap Hit: $5.8m
2013 Performance Based Value: $871k
Value Differential: -$4.9m

3. Frank Gore, Halfback

The heart and soul of the 49ers offense lands on this list in spite of finishing the year with a +12.1 overall grade. Gore’s +10.8 blocking grade led all halfbacks in 2013, but his 2.0 yards per carry after contact was in the bottom third of the league. He has an identical $6.45 million salary in 2014, and with Gore turning 31 in May despite what Trent Baalke has previously stated, it seems logical he is a candidate for a pay cut this offseason.

2013 Cap Hit: $6.5m
2013 Performance Based Value: $3.4m
Value Differential: -$3.0m

4. Vernon Davis, TE – Cap: $8.7m, PBV: $6.1m, Value Differential: -$2.7m

5. Ahmad Brooks, ED – Cap: $5.1m, PBV: $2.4m, Value Differential: $-2.6m

6. Mario Manningham, WR – Cap: $2.8m, PBV: $306k, Value Differential: -$2.5m

7. Andy Lee, P – Cap: $4.1m, PBV: $1.8m, Value Differential: -$2.3m

8. Justin Smith, DL – Cap: $3.7m, PBV: $2.3m, Value Differential: -$1.5m

9. Craig Dahl, S – Cap: $1.8m, PBV: $700k, Value Differential: -$1.1m

10. Colt McCoy, QB – Cap: $1.5m, PBV: $615k, Value Differential: -$891k


Summary – Team Value Differential: +$8.1m

While nowhere near the +$59.4 million differential they had in 2012, the 49ers are still getting a positive return on their overall investment. With Colin Kaepernick’s rookie deal nearing an end and several other marquee players (Aldon Smith, Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati) also on the final year of their contracts, it will be a bigger challenge for general manager Trent Baalke going forward to keep as much talent on the roster as he can while getting the best value possible.


Follow Jeff on Twitter: @PFF_Jeff

  • Willtalk

    Despite what some fans seem to think all those negative cap hits will eventually start adding up once the rookie salaries of many of the positive cap players are no longer effective. The team cannot really afford to carry any less productive players at a high salary but must make the difficult choices that need to be made. The NFL is a business and with the cap limits loyalty is never a rational option.

  • Nope

    4. Vernon Davis, TE – Cap: $8.7m, PBV: $6.1m, Value Differential: -$2.7m

    Stupidity Alert!
    8.7m for the best COMPLETE TE in the NFL is a bargain.

    6. Patrick Willis, ILB – Cap: $2.4m, PBV: $5.9m, Value Differential: +$3.5m

    You’re rating the best linebacker in the NFL with a 6m cap hit? If he hit the open market Willis would easily bring in Revis type money, and would probably be the highest paid defensive player in the NFL.

    • Chris

      Yeah I’m curious as to how they calculate these values. If Willis isn’t worth at least $10M, then I’m not sure who is.

    • Homeristic

      1. It’s hard to be the best linebacker in the NFL when you aren’t even the best inside linebacker on your own team. Willis is still great, but Bowman has eclipsed him in every way.

      2. Inside linebackers are poor value compared to pass rushers (4-3 DE / 3-4 OLB), dominant defensive linemen at the 3T, lockdown cornerbacks, and free safeties that have sideline to sideline range.

      • Nfl

        Willis is still better than bowman. Just because he doesn’t make flashy plays doesn’t mean he’s worse. He does the dirty work in coverage while bowman gets the tackles. IMO Willis still better. Just because he’s old news doesn’t mean he’s bad news

    • Nathan Jahnke

      For Willis, part of the problem is he missed 2.5 games due to injury while others with comparable grades did not. This is saying how much he deserved last year rather than how much he is worth going forward. If you assumed he was healthy over those games and played as well as usual, that would have helped Willis’ value and he would have moved up the undervalued list. In general Willis had a down year compared to past years. A down year for him still puts him among the top few in the game.

      Also inside/middle linebackers just don’t get paid as much as some other positions. Three times as many pass rushers had a cap hit of at least $7.0m last year as LBs(either 3-4 ILB or 4-3 MLB/4-3 OLB).