Over at ESPN's NFC West blog, Mike Sando took a look at some of the acrimonious contract situations in the division. The division has signed all of their 2008 draft picks, but that doesn't meant people don't want to get P-A-I-D.
The Rams are dealing with a Pro Bowl holdout in Steven Jackson. While Anquan Boldin has reported to Cardinals camp, he is not planning on sticking around when his contract expires. The Seahawks have an unhappy Bobby Engram, not something you want out of your star receiver.
And the 49ers during all of this? Well, Arnaz Battle missed several days of practice during the OTAs. No official word was ever given, but most people believe it was dissatisfaction with having his #2 job handed to Bryant Johnson. You never want your players unhappy, but it's better if it's the potential #3 receiver, as opposed to say, Patrick Willis or Joe Staley.
However, with that in mind, looking back over recent 49ers history shows very few holdouts. I was trying to figure out who the last 49ers holdout was and I think it was Julian Peterson in 2004. Rashaun Woods was a threat too, but I can't remember for sure and google is not much help on that. Of course, it is Rashaun Woods, so who really cares, right?
The 49ers clearly have struggled on the field and battled with inconsistencies and being generally bad since Mooch left town. However, while the team has struggled under Nolan, they have definitely brought in some quality talent, while also developing some of their own picks within. During all this time, there has never been contract holdout drama. One thing that plays in the team's favor is that a rookie's contract apparently cannot be redone until AFTER the second year. So you get a couple years without holding out after a deal is done.
At the same time, even when it's been last minute, like with Vernon Davis, the team has gotten their draft picks into camp on time. Making the leap from college to the pros is a big step up and rookies need every minute of training camp they can get. JaMarcus Russell missed all of training camp last season and I can't begin to imagine how much that stunted his initial growth. Even for a guy like Kentwan Balmer, getting in on time means he gets to meet with the likes of Bryant Young. While Balmer probably wouldn't have missed all of training camp, maybe BY only makes it to the early part of camp and he misses out on that chance? It's all speculation, but worth considering.
So, even though the team has stunk up the joint at times, we can at least take some solace knowing that our front office isn't entirely incompetent. Over the last couple of months we've seen them re-sign the likes of Delanie Walker and Michael Robinson. While neither is a starter, they are important cogs that could make key contributions this year and into the future.
So the question then becomes, do the 49ers have Patrick Willis's agent on speed dial for the moment the season ends and they can renegotiate a long term deal while rewarding Bamm Bamm for his all around awesomeness?