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49ers in Five: What it’s like negotiating with Paraag Marathe

Spoiler Alert: It’s not easy

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Paraag Marathe is a paradox. He is simultaneously the most praised and hated member of the 49ers’ front office. When the team is struggling, he’s the meddlesome outsider, quietly whispering money-saving suggestions into the ear of Jed York.

When the team is doing well, he’s the salary cap wizard who bamboozles agents into signing team-friendly deals. With both Deebo Samuel and Nick Bosa up for contract extensions this offseason, Marathe will obviously have a big role in getting those deals done. So what’s it like dealing with him when the money is on the line?

Jimmie Ward offered some answers to that question in his recent Instagram live.

“Paraag, he don’t play (laughs). Shoutout to Paraag, boy. He’s gonna do his job. That’s why Paraag has been a part of the Niners organization for years and year and years. Boy, Paraag, that boy is a negotiator. Look up the definition, you’re going to see a picture with Paraag’s face on it. I’m telling you. He needs every dollar - for real.”

Marathe has been with the organization for over two decades and has a league-wide reputation as a hyper-intelligent, ultra-competitive negotiator who is driven to win every deal. In most cases, those would be attractive qualities in a lead negotiator.

In some cases, however, the desire to “win” can sometimes do more harm than good. The 49ers know this all too well, having dealt with Jim Harbaugh from 2011 to 2014. Harbaugh wanted to win at literally everything, refusing to even let a question in a press conference go by without gaining some sort of edge (even if only in his own mind). It’s part of the reason he wore out his welcome inside the organization despite incredible success on the field.

There does come a point in every negotiation where the value of squeezing that last dollar out of someone is less than the harm you cause to the relationship with the player (or the agent). To be clear, I’m not suggesting Marathe is doing that with Samuel or Bosa.

I’m simply saying it’s something that perhaps others in the organization (like John Lynch or Kyle Shanahan) should keep in mind as these contract talks progress. Particularly with the Bosas, who have always been aware of their worth and are unafraid to play hardball.

Depending on how those situations play out, Marathe will return to his familiar role of a silver-tongued genius, or conniving bean-counter.