49ers Clubhouse 

A Blueprint Once More? 

September 19, 2001

by James Parrott
Clubhouse Staff Writer

During the 49ers two decade run of success many teams decided to copy Bill Walsh and co. in an attempt to be successful. And now the salary cap is beginning to bite all around the league, it seems that taking a leaf out of the latest 49er book (Escape From Salary Cap Hell-Drastic Action) would be wise for quite a few NFL teams.

After the last playoff appearance for the Red and Gold the team was dismantled due to a $20 million-plus salary cap overun. Veteran starters and proven backups, many of whom were overpaid players past their primes were cut, traded or given away via the 1999 expansion draft.

That year was a disaster after the team lost Steve Young to a final concussion, and 11 of its last 12 games including a game in Cincinnati.

The 1999 draft had produced a number of injured players - Reggie McGrew, Chike Okeafor, Anthony Parker - but now they look like good picks as they are just beginning to show they can contribute. With more starters released after that year, the 2000 draft took on greater importance than any draft since perhaps the very early eighties.

That draft produced six players who have started on defence and was a success for the team. Four wins rose to six and with the emergence of another Pro Bowl quarterback and wideout the first signs of progress were visible.

In the following offseason, more veteran starters were let go and the youngest defence in the NFL got younger. Free agency somehow brought two new starters and the draft brought two excellent prospects on defence and a possible future starter at running back.

This has been a gradual process, and is still not yet over.

In 1994 Cincinnati owner Mike Brown described San Francisco as a Micky Mouse organization who would struggle to put a team on the field in a few years.

Amazingly (considering he owns the Bengals) he was half right. Yet in just three years San Francisco have built a more positive outlook for the future than they did after the 1998 season.

Take note Jacksonville - who's cap problems are even worse than San Francisco's and with next to nothing to show for it - Dallas and Washington.

It can be done.

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