On next Kaepernick deal and advanced data

March, 1, 2014
Mar 1
3:30
PM ET
BOSTON -- Entering the final year of his rookie contract, an extension for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick could be on the horizon.

Jones
Kaepernick
But as Kaepernick looks for the 49ers to show him the money, 49ers president Paraag Marathe could be singing a different tune: Show me the numbers.

Marathe was part of a panel discussion Saturday at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, an annual convention that explores the use of statistical data in decision making. At one point, ESPN's Suzy Kolber -- who was moderating the panel -- pulled out the latest version of ESPN the Magazine.

On page 66 is a research tidbit showing that Kaepernick had an accuracy rating of 54.6 percent under pressure last season, the worst mark in the NFL. Meanwhile, he was sacked on 20.2 percent of snaps when under duress, the fourth-worst rate among starters.

Kolber asked Marathe about how the team views that sort of data.

"I guess, I could have a different answer if he was under contract for eight more years -- versus under contract for one more year -- so I'm particularly intrigued with that article, which I have to go and read," Marathe said, tongue in cheek.

Ultimately, any concerns about Kaepernick's play under pressure likely will not get in the way of a contract extension. The two sides have begun preliminary talks and a lucrative deal could get done this offseason.

Marathe, who was promoted to team president in January, said that advanced statistics "absolutely play a big role" in contract negotiations.

"Both sides in a contract negotiation, both sides are using analytics and data to help support -- it's confirmation bias to the max, everybody's trying to find evidence that supports whatever theory or contract demand they want to make," he said. "They can cut it and slice it in a lot of ways that help you.

"Here's one that may not help them as much, so that's why I'm looking forward to reading it."

Later in the discussion, Marathe was asked more generally about the importance of a quarterback to a team's success.

"That's the single biggest differentiator," he said. "If you can get by with average talent, but if you have a superior quarterback, you'll see the best quarterbacks -- the Hall of Fame quarterbacks -- it doesn't matter what kind of talent they have, even if they have really bad talent around them, they're going to finish 7-9 [or] 8-8. They're never going to go 3-13."

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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