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49ers TE Delanie Walker & RB Michael Robinson: $9.5 million in potential

Yesterday came the news that Delanie Walker was inked to a contract extension through 2012.  Walker's deal appears to be a 3-year deal worth $6 million, including a $1.8 million signing bonus.  This comes on the heels of Michael Robinson signing his own three year extension for $3.525 million, including a $1.2 million signing bonus.  Both players rookie contracts expire after 2009.

Between the two of them, in two seasons they've combined for 237 rushing yards, 43 receptions, 324 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.  Delanie Walker is a backup tight end and Michael Robinson is the third string running back.  On the surface this would not seem like much to write home about.  Of course, here at Niners Nation, neither Walker nor Robinson is thought of in such traditional terms.

Delanie Walker
Walker is definitely a fan favorite of many and his potential has folks rather excited.  Vernon Davis is the future of the 49ers at tight end, but Walker is a guy who can definitely make an impact.  The 49ers seem to think the same thing with this extension.  Furthermore, Mike Martz has been impressed with what Walker has brought to the table so far in practice:

"Wow. That's how I would say it. Wow. He has some real wow factor to him. He is such a professional and he works so hard at it. He's such a stickler for detail. You talk about some jets and some ability to run and eat up the field. Holy cow. I didn't know anything about Delanie until I got here. The last week or two, we put some things in just for him and he just really excelled."

Walker put up some decent numbers in the preseason last year and showed some signs of life in the regular season.  As with the rest of the offense, it's hard to predict what the Mike Martz offense will mean for Walker's production.  He had 21 receptions for 174 yards last season.  The preseason will likely not be much of an indicator since I'd imagine the team will hold back on rolling out the entire offense.  Any predictions on walker's season?

Michael Robinson
Robinson has always been intriguing because of the switch he's made from quarterback to running back, and the fact that the 49ers took him in the 4th round to make this transition.  Although he hasn't blown people away as a running back, he showed some progress last year, boosting his rushing average from 3.1 to 4.7 yards per carry.  It was based on only 26 carries, so we'll see if SSSS (small sample size syndrome) comes into play.  The addition of DeShaun Foster makes for an interesting situation for Robinson.  While Robinson might not do much as a running back this coming season (or even long term for all we know), he has shown some ability on special teams. 

One thing I do like about him is the fact that he, along with Arnaz Battle, can be utilized in some creative situations because of their quarterback experience.  Martz enjoys some trickery in his offense and this could be his best opportunity.  Throw in the fact that Alex Smith is quite athletic (you don't run Urban Meyer's spread option offense without being an athlete) and we could see some overall zaniness on the field in 2008.

The one thing to keep in mind with these two extensions is that they're low risk, high reward situations.  If there comes a time when there is clearly no room for one or both of them in the future, cutting them will not even remotely cripple the team financially.  Although the press coverage goes to Justin Smith and Nate Clements type signings, these smaller deals can often turn out just as important.