Albert Breer reported earlier today that the San Francisco 49ers have begun contract negotiations with left guard Mike Iupati. According to Breer, the negotiations began last week. Matt Maiocco followed that up by reporting the discussions are in the preliminary stages, and there is no timetable on getting a deal done.
The 49ers signed Anthony Davis to a contract extension a week and a half ago, and locking up Iupati would secure much of the offensive line through 2015. Jonathan Goodwin is only signed through 2013, but the team would likely look to younger, cheaper options. Daniel Kilgore and Joe Looney are likely the front runners for the long-term center job, with Kilgore likely the favorite.
We had some discussion last week about which 49ers player would be likely to walk. In the comments I mentioned how I thought Iupati was a possibility because guards are often over-valued in the NFL. That being said, Eric Branch made a good point in a recent article about Iupati. He pointed to Trent Baalke's comments about the rarity of Iupati's skills.
Given how the 49ers have built up this offense, it makes sense to secure as much of the offensive line as is feasible. Iupati is coming off an All-Pro season, which drives his price up. At the same time, the 49ers do have some leverage in negotiations. Iupati isn't a free agent until after the 2014 season. Given how easy it is for injuries to end or limit a career, Iupati has incentive to work out a deal now rather than wait for even bigger money in two years.
It is also worth noting, that if Iupati can work out a deal now, aside from cashing in early, he also sets himself up for another big contract if he does remain healthy through the end of an extension. If he waits a couple years to hit free agency, he could get a sizable deal, but he potentially limits his chances for a second quality contract after his extension ends. These are just a few of the things that come into consideration when figuring out the numbers on this potential extension.