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49ers Contract Decisions: Who Should Get the Next Extension?

We have plenty of discussion about signing this player or that, but reading Matt Maiocco's chat transcript from yesterday got me thinking about the issue again:

From Os
Odds of Lawson, Franklin or Goldson returning?

Matt Maiocco
In 2011, I'd say there's a strong chance two of those three will return. Depending on the new CBA (when there's a new CBA), the 49ers should have the franchise tag available to use on one of those players. Also, Goldson will be a four-year vet, and he might only be a restricted free agent. Therefore, they can keep Goldson around pretty easily with a tender, and they can use the franchise tag.

Matt Maiocco
Who should be the 49ers' top priority to re-sign (at whatever cost)?
David Baas ( 26% )
Aubrayo Franklin ( 17% )
Dashon Goldson ( 2% )
Manny Lawson ( 55% )

I've copied that poll question for our own use as I'm curious how people feel about this topic. Although I think its ridiculous to ponder at this point I've included Troy Smith because the FanPosts and comments indicate there are people who would extend Troy Smith after one game as starting QB. If Smith shows enough promise to maintain the starting job the rest of the season it's certainly something to consider. I just don't think one could legitimately argue for it right now, today.

After the jump there are a few issues I wanted to raise with this list...

Aubrayo Franklin: Assuming the franchise tag still exists, MM seems to indicate the team would once again use that tag on Franklin. The team seemed to be really excited with Ricky Jean-Francois' development at the nose tackle position while Franklin was sitting out training camp. That excitement quieted down once Franklin finally signed his tender. Of course, his late signing meant he missed most of camp and it has taken him time to get on track with the rest of the team.

Two questions: 1) If he and the team go through this charade again, will we see more problems with his missing camp?; 2) Does the team roll the dice and go with RJF at nose tackle? One option if the 49ers went with RJF would be to then look for a nose tackle in the draft to give you a couple options to build from. There hasn't been much discussion on the topic so who knows if this is even being considered. But if they like RJF, maybe they roll the dice. If they were to do that, then....

Manny Lawson: Suddenly you've freed the franchise tag to use on Manny Lawson. This year's franchise tender for a linebacker was $2.7 million more than a defensive tackle. Certainly pricey, but Lawson's athleticism is pretty impressive. He reminds me a lot of Julian Peterson back when he was a 49er, although he's not quite as aggressive in the pass rush as Peterson was. I just don't know if Lawson is a guy in which you want to invest a ton of money. I know the team gave Parys Haralson a multi-year extension, but it's safe to say Lawson would be in line for a much bigger contract than Haralson. He's certainly had big moments this year, but enough to justify a big contract?

David Baas: The 49ers offensive line has had as many ups and downs this season as one could possibly imagine. One minute they're gelling as a unit and the next they look like five guys brought together off the street five minutes before the game. David Baas has done an admirable job since taking over for Eric Heitmann and MM indicated management really likes him:

From Ben
Is David Baas a long-term solution at Center?

Matt Maiocco
Yes. No question about it. The 49ers were open-minded about Baas taking over full time for Eric Heitmann right after Heitmann sustained his broken leg in training camp. Baas is unsigned for next year, but I've learned that the club definitely wants to re-sign him to be the long-term solution at center.

Considering once a player passes 30 it seems like the end of the road is near, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised the 49ers are ready to move on from Eric Heitmann. I've felt Heitmann has always been an underrated center as he has held his own with some of the top defensive tackles in the league over the years. Heitmann turns 31 shortly after the Super Bowl and Baas turns 30 early next season. It's not a huge disparity in age, but Heitmann has had multiple leg injuries, which can't be a good thing for an offensive lineman.

When I watch games I try and keep an eye on the offensive line, but I've always found it hard to judge their work, particularly interior linemen. I suppose I should use my Game Rewind account to focus in on the work of Baas. Maybe I'll do that at the end of the season. The Game Rewind isn't the coaches tape, but for the offensive line it should be enough to see what's what with them.