The San Francisco 49ers have made it clear that they aren't ready to push out the old guard in favor of the young guns. Signing defensive lineman Justin Smith to a two-year contract extension will likely keep him with the 49ers until he calls it a career and retires to a place with lots of red meat and plenty of dogs.
Most recently, two players have been discussed as potential cap casualties following this season: the very same Smith who was just extended and veteran running back Frank Gore.
The thought of a team without either of these two players is ... well, a thought I don't have to have, personally. Gore embodies so much of what it means to be a 49er, but it is true that his final season under his current contract will see him count over $6 million against the salary cap. Running backs at his age don't usually command that kind of money.
But Kendall Hunter still has a lot of work to do, Marcus Lattimore is still on the mend and LaMichael James is as raw as they get. Gore sticking around has much more to do with San Francisco's success than it does our feelings of wanting him to stay.
With Smith getting his extension, could a re-worked contract for Gore with more years added on it be coming soon? The 49ers won't want to pay him $6.5 million in 2014, but they could always tack on another year or two, since Gore is adamant he will play that long, and see what sticks.
The earlier the 49ers can get something like that done, the more likely it seems that Gore would be willing to sign on the dotted line. I could see it happening relatively quickly, personally, though that could easily just be me fooling myself because it's what I want to happen.