Raiders owner Mark Davis said Monday that he is adamant about building his team into a perennial Super Bowl-caliber team, and he cited the 49ers as a model for how to make that a reality.
In time, Davis envisions the Raiders building through the NFL draft and using free agency only as a means to fill in the gaps, not as some sort of panacea.
"You have to have a very solid team and then you can plug one or two guys in," Davis said in an exclusive interview with Bay Area News Group. "I hate to use the example of the team across the bay, but they're in a position now where they have such a good core that they're able to just pick up a guy here or a guy there.
"They're able to bring in a Nnamdi Asomugha or somebody that could possibly help them. If he doesn't (work out), it doesn't really destroy their chemistry badly because they're not counting on Nnamdi to do anything (great), but to augment them."
The core of the 49ers roster comprises players selected in the draft, with free-agent signees such as defensive lineman Justin Smith, strong safety Donte Whitner and wide receiver Mario Manningham bolstering the lineup.
The 49ers have 13 picks in this year's draft, almost twice as many as the Raiders.
The Raiders own the rights to the No. 3 pick. However, they are without second- and fifth-round selections as a result of trades for quarterback Carson Palmer and linebacker Aaron Curry in 2011.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has said from the day he was hired in 2012 that he covets draft picks and views them as the key to building a successful team.
The other key to a Raiders turnaround, Davis said, lays in the ability to get their salary cap to the point where they have enough money to re-sign their own players and a handful of free agents each season.
To that end, McKenzie used last offseason and this offseason to purge what he deemed "out-of-whack" contracts.
That process is complete, though at considerable expense. Severing ties with the likes of Stanford Routt, Kamerion Wimbley, Palmer, Richard Seymour, Michael Huff, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Rolando McClain forced the Raiders to account for almost $50 million of their $123 million salary cap this season on players no longer on the roster.
"It's something that was necessary," Davis said. "It was clearly evident. We needed to do some more restructuring. All the way down to the brass bolts. But there's light at the end of the tunnel."
When the Raiders emerge from their funk remains to be seen. They last made the playoffs in 2002, when they advanced to the Super Bowl. They haven't won more than eight games in a season the past 10 years.
Davis said he wasn't expecting the Raiders to win the Super Bowl last season, the first for McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen. He also isn't sure how much longer it's going to take for Raiders to get to the point where they are a Super Bowl contender.
"My philosophy is, making the playoffs is great and all that, it's great for the fans and everything, but winning the Super Bowl is the only goal," Davis said. "Otherwise, I've said it all my life, if you don't win the Super Bowl, then you're just like one of the other 30 teams."
The Raiders won the last of their three Super Bowls in the 1983 season. Davis said he is hell-bent upon bringing more Super Bowl titles to Oakland in the coming years.
"In my lifetime, we've had three successful seasons," Davis said. "That's the absolute truth. That's the way I live my life. That's the way we live our lives. What we're trying to build is a team that is going to go after Super Bowls. It can't just be a one-shot deal."
Davis said he is content with McKenzie and Allen and that he intends to be patient enough to let them see through the process of rebuilding the Raiders.
"The process of building a foundation is going to take place this year, next year, the following year," Davis said. "It's not just going to be a quick fix, 'OK, hey, we're back and this is great.' It's going to take awhile."
And that's what Davis expected when he hired McKenzie as the team's first full-fledged general manager. McKenzie, in turn, hired Allen to succeed Hue Jackson.
"I hired Reggie knowing what the process was going to be," Davis said. "I have no problem with where it's going so far on the player personnel side. That's where his expertise is. ... Who knows? We could be really competitive this year. I'm not writing the season off."