It’s been a rough offseason for the San Francisco 49ers.
After another crushing loss to end their title hopes for the third straight season, the 49ers have watched as some core players have gotten themselves into trouble. They are waiting on specifics about exactly what happened with Colin Kaepernick and Quinton Patton during an incident in Miami, but that may be the least of their worries.
Defensive standouts Aldon Smith and Chris Culliver are battling legal issues of their own, and Smith’s future with the team appears to be in doubt. That’s troubling news for someone who was considered a linchpin for years to come only eight months ago.
While fans are looking for some reprieve, here are three things the team can do to move past some of the off-the-field issues.
While reports had surfaced that the 49ers tabled contract talks until the incident in Miami is cleared up, Adam Schefter confirmed on ESPN’s NFL Live that the team is not overly concerned and continues to consider Kaepernick’s extension a major priority.
San Francisco would like to have something done in the way of Kaepernick before the season starts, and locking up their franchise quarterback could go a long way in upping morale and not having the contract be a distraction as the season wears on.
Extend Jim Harbaugh
While Kaepernick’s future getting secured is an essential piece of the puzzle moving forward, Jim Harbaugh being with the franchise long term is arguably of more importance. It’s easy to forget that the 49ers were a mess before Harbaugh arrived, and went eight seasons without a winning record.
Since taking over in 2011, Harbaugh has gone 36-11-1 in three seasons and brought the team to three-straight NFC title games and a Super Bowl appearance. He has done that with two different quarterbacks.
There is little doubt that Harbaugh is one of the best coaches in the NFL. Even if he can be prickly at times, one would think that someone with his track record for success would be worth the headaches now and then.
Have a Successful Draft
With six picks in the first three rounds (and 11 overall), the 49ers have the opportunity to have a franchise-defining draft. The team has needs at wide receiver and cornerback, but could also plan for the future at other positions. With so many picks, it gives the 49ers the option to package them in order to move up and get a player they covet, or stand pat and possibly fill more holes.
If they play their cards right, the Niners could balance the possible losses of one or more of Smith, Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, and Mike Iupati in 2015, as the players they select could ultimately fill those voids at a cheaper rate. This would allow them to continue to keep core players and work around the large contract Kaepernick will inevitably receive.
Photo: Michael Zagaris: Getty Images
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