The 49ers only significant move of the negotiation period thus far — the signing of MLB Kwon Alexander to a reported four-year, $54 million ($27 semi-guaranteed) deal — has been the subject of some criticism. While Alexander is just 24-years old and made the Pro Bowl (as an alternate) in 2017, he’s coming off an ACL injury, and is far from a consensus elite player that would typically command the most expensive contract for a linebacker in NFL history.
One of the outlets that has called into question Alexander’s talent level is Pro Football Focus (PFF), which has graded him as mediocre at best in each of his four seasons.
Is Kwon Alexander worth the money he’s set to receive in San Francisco?
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 12, 2019
Steve Palazzolo is the Senior Analyst and Director of Video Content for PFF, and joined KNBR on Tuesday afternoon to explain why Alexander has been rated so poorly.
“I think our grades do a pretty good job of taking that context into consideration,” Palazzolo said. “If a guy beats a block, gets in there and misses a tackle, it’s not always a negative play, because you are blowing up a play or you’re helping someone else make it. The PFF grade is the ultimate answer to your question.
“The PFF grades were low overall, including in coverage,” Palazzolo said. “We would always butt heads with Bucs fans when we said, ‘Yeah he’s not as good as maybe you think he is,’ because he had years where he had six or seven pass breakups and a couple forced fumbles here and there. He just gave up so much in coverage, he wasn’t great about letting passes get in behind him and he had all those missed tackle issues.”
Palazzolo was asked if Alexander’s high missed tackle rate can be attributed to good range that puts him in a position to make plays that others wouldn’t. Palazzolo doesn’t think so.
“I think our grades do a pretty good job of taking that context into consideration,” Palazzolo said of missed tackle rates. “If a guy beats a block, gets in there and misses a tackle, it’s not always a negative play, because you are blowing up a play or you’re helping someone else make it. The PFF grade is the ultimate answer to your question.
“Now maybe there’s something to the old rugby style tackling the Seattle Seahawks scheme, which is now in San Francisco and Atlanta and with the Chargers that all these teams are trying to teach, perhaps you can cut down on some of those missed tackles and take advantage of that athleticism. I do know that the scheme works well when you do have that athletic middle linebacker that can run the seam and cover those crossing routes that crush the Cover 3 scheme that Seattle and San Francisco like to run. The traits are certainly there, but the on-field production hasn’t been, so that’s why it becomes a little risky when you put so much money into Kwon Alexander at this point.”
Listen to the full interview below. To hear Palazzolo on Alexander start from 7:00