Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes signed a 10-year contract that could be worth upwards to $503 million. That’s the richest contract in sports history, and it was given to a 24-year-old. We’ve seen some San Francisco 49ers peak relatively early in their career. Peak isn’t the best word, but you don’t have to be a five-year veteran for us to know you can play. I’d imagine most answers would involve Nick Bosa. The 2019 Rookie of the Year couldn’t have made a better first impression. Bosa was so dominant that he’s one of the frontrunners for Defensive Player of the Year entering his second season. Those are the type of players you would hand a 10-year deal to. Who else throughout 49ers history makes sense?
When the Niners signed Deion Sanders, he was 27 and in the prime of his career. Would you have felt comfortable giving Neon Deion a 10-year contract? He wound up playing until he was 38, even though he retired for three seasons. That’s risky, as we’ve known most defensive backs to slow down in their early 30s.
After Joe Montana helped win a Super Bowl in the early 80s, would you have given the future Hall of Famer a decade-long contract? The best of Joe’s career was obviously ahead of him, but Montana went 13-3 but followed that up with a 3-6 season. I imagine there were Montana doubters. That probably means we miss out on the prime Steve Young years in San Francisco.
Jerry Rice is the easiest answer. He had 927 yards as a rookie and only started in four games. After that, Rice didn’t have fewer than 1,000 yards for another 11 seasons. His stat line is unreal. Who else? There’s Patrick Willis, Joe Staley, Bryant Young, Terrell Owens. The list of 49ers greats goes on and on, but who is worth a decade-long contract?