Over the weekend, San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke told Bay Area media that the team was trying to work out contracts with 2015 free agents Michael Crabtree and Mike Iupati. He acknowledged that while they will work toward that goal, at some point they wanted to let the players focus on football. He would not give a timeline on when that would be.
We've seen minor updates on these two contract situations throughout today. Earlier in the day, Jason Cole (formerly with Yahoo!, now with Bleacher Report) indicated the 49ers and Crabtree have a "serious disagreement...about his value". I take Cole's comments with a bit of a grain of salt, as he can be all over the place.
Later in the day, Matt Maiocco wrote about Baalke's comments, and in his article, he said multiple sources indicated the 49ers were not remotely close to new contracts for either Iupati or Crabtree. He did not provide any more detail than that.
The idea of not being remotely close does not necessarily mean deals will not get done. In Crabtree's case in particular, his recovery from Achilles surgery likely has some impact on the discussion. Crabtree dealt with foot issues early in his career, and now is looking for a full season of play following last year's injury. It is possible any difference in value depends on how both sides view the injury. All reports indicate Crabtree is looking great in training camp. It is possible the 49ers are still hesitant to give him a sizable extension without seeing more proof of his health. I think whatever deal Crabtree gets will likely include a significant chunk of game day roster bonuses. When healthy, Crabtree is a top notch playmaker. It makes sense to include the bonuses as a sort of carrot in the contract.
Given the market for top of the line guards, Iupati's apparent standing in the league, and the 49ers recent acquisitions along the interior of the line, I would be surprised if Iupati was back in 2015. The 49ers are at a point now where they have to pick and choose the guys they retain. Colin Kaepernick's contract extension does not do much to the 49ers in 2014, but moving forward, it puts the squeeze on them, and puts them in a position where they must rely even more heavily on the draft.
Speaking of Kaepernick's contract, this impacts Michael Crabtree as well. Kap took less guaranteed money than he might otherwise have gotten. There was talk about the 49ers winning the negotiation, but all indications are that Kap knowingly took less in order to open up some space for other contracts. More specifically, Crabtree was a name that came up in these negotiations. Crabtree has been Kap's favorite receiver, and even the most dynamic of quarterbacks needs quality receivers if the franchise wants to win a Super Bowl.
Just because Crabtree's name came up in discussions does not guarantee a deal will get done with Crabtree. It will take both parties reaching a mutually acceptable position (duh). If the two sides come to an agreement, my guess is it happens in the next few weeks before the season starts, or not until next offseason before free agency gets here. I can't say with any confidence what the result will be. I simply hope they can get a deal done.