The San Francisco 49ers have numerous notable players hitting free agency next spring. Guys like Alex Boone, Aldon Smith and Vernon Davis all provide the 49ers with some questions to answer as they move toward next March. On Tuesday, general manager Trent Baalke had a brief sit-down with the media following practice, and took a few minutes to discuss Smith and Davis in particular. You can view the beat writer content on the interviews here:
Baalke said he was pleased with Aldon Smith's behavior, and he thinks Smith is in line for a huge season. Smith is in his option year, which was re-structured from a potentially fully guaranteed $9,754,000 to a deal that is made up primarily of roster bonuses and incentives. It forces Smith to prove he can stay out of trouble and contribute to this team.
Baalke addressed the team's plan moving forward, although he obviously was a bit vague on the details:
"I think he understands, and his agent understands, what we would like to do," Baalke said. "And we're going to work hard at it. Now when that gets done, if it gets done during the season, I can't answer that. He knows where we stand and my understanding is he would love to be here, and we would certainly love to keep him here."
If Smith stays out of trouble and is performing well, I could see a late season extension happening. But it is also possible that if Smith gets off to a strong start and is on pace for 15, 20 sacks, maybe he chooses to wait until the offseason and see what options are out there. The 49ers have stuck with him through his troubles, so it will be interesting to see how that impacts contract negotiations.
Baalke said that tight end Vernon Davis wants to remain with the 49ers long-term, and the interest was mutual. Of course, he also acknowledged that even with mutual interest, things don't always work out:
"We're always going to try to keep our own," Baalke said. "Sometimes it works. As you've seen, sometimes it doesn't. But Vernon and I have had conversations and we'll leave it at that. He understands where we are. And we certainly understand where he is."
It is hard to really figure out Vernon Davis's future at this point. If he struggles again, the team will probably be fine letting him walk. But if he has a solid year, his future with the team might depend in part on how the other tight ends perform. The team added Blake Bell and Busta Anderson in the draft, and extended Derek Carrier for a couple more years. They have some intriguing options, but all have a lot to prove.