The NFL announced some of the top earners of its performance-based-pay system, and linebacker Parys Haralson made the list at No. 25 with a $226,221 bonus. The top earner was Pittsburgh tackle Willie Colon, who earned $309,534 in additional pay.
The system was designed to award overachievers Ė players who make a comparatively small amount of dough but who play a lot of minutes. To arrive at an amount, a playerís regular-season play time (For Haralson, defense and special teams) is divided by his adjusted regular-season compensation (full season salary, prorated portion of signing bonus, earned incentives). That number is then compared to those of the other players on his team to determine the amount of his pay. (In other words, itís complicated).
Haralson was a fifth-round draft choice in 2006 who missed most of his rookie season when he went on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle. Haralson began the 2007 season slowly but started to come on strong at midseason and got plenty of playing time at outside linebacker. He started 11 games, finished with 42 tackles and had 2 Ĺ sacks.
Unless the 49ers tap an outside linebacker (Quentin Groves) early in the draft, some observers believe Haralson will wrestle away a starting job from Tully Banta-Cain. Haralson certainly showed improving pass-rush skills and he has a big supporter in GM Scot McCloughan. But donít count Banta-Cain out just yet. I know I havenít been an ardent TBC supporter, but I was watching NFL Network the other day and saw Banta-Cain in the AFC Championship game in which the Patriots lost to the Colts. Iíll be damned if TBC wasnít in Peyton Manningís grill throughout the second half of that game. Iím talking just about every single pass play! Banta-Cain was running over blockers, throwing them to the ground. He was unstoppable! Of course, the Colts chose to block TBC sometimes with a tight end, sometimes with a running back. And toward the end of the game, they had the left guard pop out and try to block him with minimal success. It just goes to show how important the surrounding cast is to a pass rusherís success. TBC suffered as much as anyone when Manny Lawson tore a knee ligament last year. We (read: me) probably should reserve judgment until everyone is healthy.
Speaking of NFL Network Ö I got caught up yesterday watching the replay of that roller-coaster 49ers-Giants playoff game from January 2003. Holy crud, that was an intense game! A couple of mental notes I made while watching:
∑ By my count, there are only four 49ers that day who are still in a San Francisco uniform: Jeff Ulbrich, Brandon Moore, Eric Heitmann and Brian Jennings. Thatís astounding to me. Yes, the game was played more than five years ago but itís not as if all those players are out of the league. Terrell Owens (unstoppable that game), Jeff Garcia, Eric Johnson, Julian Peterson, Andre Carter, John Engelberger and Derek Smith are still in the league. The Giants turnover seems to be just as dramatic. I saw Michael Strahan, Jeremy Shockey and Amani Toomer but few others I recognized from this yearís Super Bowl team. It just proves the old adage about what NFL stand for: not for long.
∑ Owens, Garcia and Peterson all stood out in that game. Funny that five years later the 49ers are still looking for 1.) a quarterback. 2.) a dominant wide receiver 3.) a three-down outside linebacker. I realize that keeping all three would have been tough. But saying goodbye to all three? Hindsight can be very cruel.
∑ That was the first 49ers game I ever covered. (Little did I know it would be the last playoff game!) This is documented in the clip below. After the Giants intercept a two-point conversion attempt, thereís an Owens-involved tussle on the sideline. I remember those players spilling onto my feet. See the little guy in the burgundy shirt with the thinning hair? Thatís me (at 3:23) trying to maintain law and order.
-- Matt Barrows