The San Francisco 49ers have generally done a good job identifying which players to re-sign ahead of time.
Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, NaVorro Bowman and Joe Staley stand as examples from past seasons. Deciding against paying big money for other free agents -- Aubrayo Franklin comes to mind -- has also generally worked out well.
NFC West OL by Guaranteed Money
So, when the 49ers recently re-signed tackle Anthony Davis well before his contract was set to expire, the broader context suggests the team was probably making a wise move.
Re-signing quality players ahead of schedule provides benefits for both parties. The player gets money in the bank ahead of schedule. The team generally gets concessions that wouldn't exist once the player reached free agency.
That was the case here.
Davis' new contract ranks second in guaranteed money for NFC West offensive linemen.
The tradeoff: Davis remains signed through 2019, meaning he'll wait much longer before reaching free agency than some other highly paid young linemen, including Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl center Max Unger. That was the price of reworking a rookie deal that otherwise could have run through the 2015 season.
Davis has time, however. He won't turn 24 until October. Barring injury, he'll be in position to cash in again.
The 49ers negotiated weight requirements into their deal with Davis. Base salaries can fall by as much as $1.25 million in future seasons if Davis is overweight. Later in the deal, Davis' base salaries can fall if he fails to play half the offensive snaps in the previous season. Those provisions provide some protection for the team if Davis, a 16-game starter in each of his three seasons, fails to remain on his current trajectory.
The upshot: San Francisco now has both its offensive tackles signed through the 2017 season or beyond. Left tackle Joe Staley earned Pro Bowl honors last season. Davis has been a Pro Bowl alternate. He has also received consideration on various all-pro teams.
Pro Bowl left guard Mike Iupati should be next on the 49ers' list of linemen to re-sign. Center Jonathan Goodwin, 34, is entering the final year of his contract.