San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke met with the media earlier this week and discussed numerous topics. I had planned on posting this on Friday, but certain trade rumors popped up out of nowhere and derailed Friday afternoon and Saturday morning!
One interesting topic that came up was the money invested in running backs. Baalke was asked about Frank Gore's contract and the running back situation as a whole. He was asked specifically if the money invested in the position was "reasonable":
"The simple answer is there’s no reason it can’t be. We’re in good shape from a cap standpoint, so the decision on that...there’s really no decision to be made. We can move forward exactly as is, if that’s what we choose to do."
I don't think this really qualifies as a shocking revelation. I suppose he could have said the team might hope to bring down Gore's cap figure, but in reality, they are in a position to take the $6.45 million hit and be done with it. The salary cap estimations continue to climb, with the latest projection up to $132 million.
This would give the 49ers around $12 million in cap space. They can clear more room by releasing Carlos Rogers, or at least forcing him into a pay cut. They can clear even more room with a restructured Frank Gore deal, but I could also see a reason to not re-do the deal. The 49ers long-term situation at running back is up in the air because we don't really know what is up with Marcus Lattimore.
If the 49ers re-did Frank Gore's deal, it would likely result in a two- or three-year extension with a signing bonus replacing much of his current salary. While that would lower Gore's number this year, it would potentially leave the 49ers with future dead money if they decided to part ways with Gore after this season. Instead, maybe they ride out 2014, with Lattimore cutting into Gore's workload. If they're satisfied with Lattimore's work in 2014, then maybe they part ways with Gore in 2015 and turn the workload over to Lattimore and company.
I'd love to see Frank Gore plow forward for another two or three years of production, but I don't know how realistic that is. Maybe he keeps on trucking, but I'm not sure I can hold my breath on that one. I'm starting to lean more toward the notion that they ride this contract out, and re-assess next season. What do you think?