The 49ers face new pains in extending young players

Patrick Smith

I take a look at an article over at CBS Sports - specifically a point it made about how the new collective bargaining agreement hurts the 49ers.

Over at CBS Sports, there is an excellent article called "Agent's Take: Analyzing the 49ers' blueprint for long-term success" by Joel Corry. It's a veritable treasure trove of information, and for that reason, it's been passing its way around 49er-centic websites. As we featured in our Nuggets this morning, Matt Barrows has already written a piece about Justin Smith and Frank Gore's futures on the team, using the article as a jumping off point. Even though the information in the article is all stuff we have already encountered, it's so succinctly arranged that I expect multiple people will be drawing from it for their own posts.

And that's a tactic I will use today. Take a look at a brief quotation from the article:

"The 49ers have been hampered more so than any team by the current collective bargaining agreements change in the rules relating to renegotiating rookie contracts. Players drafted after 2010 are prohibited from signing new deals until the end of the third year of their rookie contracts. Without the prohibition, the 49ers might have already attempted to extend Kaepernick or Aldon Smith's contracts. As 2011 draftees, they will be eligible to sign new deals at the conclusion of the upcoming season."

We have discussed the 49ers' predilection for signing young players to long-term contracts early before. And by and large, they have been quite successful for both the player and the team. What this article does well, however, is demonstrate how frequently the 49ers have used such tactics. Some players who have been extending include Shawntae Spencer, Frank Gore, Joe Staley, Vernon Davis, Patrick Willis, Anthony Davis, and NaVarro Bowman (you can see details about all the contracts of the respective players in the article). That's a not inconsiderable list, if you'll excuse my litotes.

Moreover, there have been enough back and forth between the Front Office and Mike Iupati that we know the 49ers are trying to do the same thing again. Iupati is unique, however, in that he was drafted before the new collective bargaining agreement was struck. He can be signed early. Guys like Aldon Smith and Colin Kaepernick? We don't really have that type of luxury with them.

And so when Mr. Corry writes that "The 49ers have been hampered more so than any team by the current collective bargaining agreement," I think this may, in fact, be a bit of an understatement. The entire core of the 49ers team has been built around contracts given early to young players. I trust our Front Office enough to figure out new ways to keep the cap under control. I mean, it isn't impossible to preemptively sign before the greedy talons of Free Agency strike. It's just a bummer to see what was once an effective tool for our team stripped away. If any team has earned the benefit of the doubt in the face of changing rules, though, I would argue it's a Trent Baalke-led team.

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