As I return from vacation, let’s take a look at two potential summer-long storylines that have developed for the San Francisco 49ers -- the contract situations of standout guard Alex Boone and Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis.
Both players, who are each dissatisfied with their contracts, have stayed away from the voluntary portion of the team’s offseason program. The 49ers can fine each player if they stay away from the team’s mandatory minicamp, which will be held June 17-19.
I think the Boone situation is potentially more serious, as Davis has told reporters he could report to the mandatory minicamp. It is my understanding that Boone remains steadfast that he will not return to the team until he gets a new contract. Of course, everything is fluid in situations like this.
I also get the feeling that if the 49ers decide to address a contract, it could be Boone’s before Davis. Boone is 26, while Davis is 30. Davis has already been given a lucrative contract by the 49ers, while the deal Boone is working on is considered below market value.
The bottom line is the 49ers' main priorities are getting quarterback Colin Kaepernick and then receiver Michael Crabtree extended. Having players staying away because they want new contracts is a nuisance for any team, but it happens all over the league.
The 49ers are a team that’s had a lot of recent success, so issues like this were bound to happen. It is a tricky road, though. If the 49ers give in to Boone and Davis, other players will likely follow suit. Who doesn’t want a better contract?
Because Boone is considered to be (he is set to make less than a total of $4 million in the final two seasons of the contract) so underpaid and is expected to continue his stance, the 49ers may be inclined to give him a pay bump if it doesn’t upset their salary cap and overall long-term plan. If that happens, it would likely be a sign 49ers will let fellow guard Mike Iupati walk in free agency next year.
Davis is simply a tougher sell for a new deal, although he is a vital part of the team. He is already the NFL's third highest-paid tight end. It would be difficult for the 49ers to tear up his deal and give him a big-dollar contract with other pressing needs.
Neither the Boone or Davis situations will become serious until mandatory minicamp starts and the pair fail to show.