San Francisco 49ers: 6 Worst Holdouts in Franchise History
There is nothing worse for an NFL team than when an impact player lets money interfere with their approach the game itself.
Its understandable why players feel they need to be compensated, whether they've outperformed a contract or are at a particular age. It seems that now more than ever, players are willing to create separation between themselves and the team in order to make a statement. They feel the only way the front office will pay attention to them is if they are not present.
For the most part, the San Francisco 49ers have been able to maintain good relationships with their players and seem to have an efficient front office. Nevertheless, the Niners do have some notable holdouts in their franchise history.
Follow me through the next group of slides for a breakdown of the six worst 49ers holdouts.
No. 6: Frank Gore, 2011
In 2011, the 49ers initiated a rebuilding year, and did so with a bang by landing Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Harbaugh brought in a handpicked staff and planned to start from scratch.
San Francisco's workhorse running back, Frank Gore, was entering the final year of a four-year deal. He was set to earn $2.9 million that year, with an additional $2 million roster bonus.
He wanted to be present as the team was rebuilding with Jim Harbaugh and a new staff. And considering the league year was already hampered by a lockout, Gore did not have much time to waste if he was serious about performing in 2011.
Had Gore actually held out a substantial amount of time, it might have seriously hurt the 49ers’ chances in their miracle season last year. There would not have been enough time for him to learn the offense, and he might have gotten less reps during the season because of it.
The fear factor alone of this near-miss situation of Gore not being present makes him worthy of the top-6.
No. 5: Dashon Goldson, 2012
This year, 49ers free safety Dashon Goldson conducted a hold out that luckily didn't infringe on training camp.
However, Goldson's time away cost him mini-camp, OTA’s and football school, as he was the lone player not in attendance.
Goldson was drafted by the 49ers in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL draft. He had a career-high six interceptions last year and worked extremely well in tandem with new addition Donte Whitner.
Goldson wanted a multi-year extension that would make him one of the highest paid safeties in the league. The deal he requested to be structured was similar to that of Eric Weddle, who inked a five-year, $40 million contract with the San Diego Chargers.
It was a no-brainer. I owed it to my teammates. Those guys have been working extremely hard. I missed a little bit of the offseason earlier and I didn’t want to miss another part of this training camp, to come back out here and sharpen up, pick up where we left off last year and just add to it. I don’t want to come off to a slow start to the season.
The 49ers would have been incredibly thin at safety had Goldson's holdout extended into the season. He realized what San Francisco is fighting for in 2012 and wanted to be a part of it.
No. 4: Charles Haley, 1989
In ’89, star defender Charles Haley was in the second year of a three-year deal with San Francisco, scheduled to make $110,000.
That offseason, Haley conducted a month-long holdout before signing with the team in mid-August. He missed a considerable amount of training camp as the 49ers were transitioning into an era without Bill Walsh, headed by George Seifert.
During the 1988 season, Haley registered 11.5 sacks and had a total of 30 in his first three seasons in the league. It was safe to say Haley outperformed his rookie contract and was probably deserving of a new one.
After 31 days passed, Haley eventually reported to Sierra College on the final day of practice with only one exhibition game remaining before the start of the regular season. Haley finished the '89 season with 57 tackles and 10.5 sacks.
No. 3: Aubrayo Franklin, 2010
49ers nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin was tagged by the team in February, following the 2009 season.
Franklin, a former Baltimore Raven, became the centerpiece in San Francisco's 3-4 defense run by then-defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
Displeased with the tender and desiring a new contract, Franklin held out of mini-camp, OTA’s and all of training camp. Since the 49ers were not exactly a complete team and relied heavily on defensive performances, a holdout by the interior lineman in the defensive front was untimely.
Franklin did not sign until late August, just in time for the season opener against the NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks.
In Franklin's absence, second-year player Ricky Jean-Francois stepped in and benefited from repetitions.
2010 was Franklin's last season with the team.
No. 2: Jerry Rice, 1992
In 1992, NFL legend Jerry Rice conducted a holdout that lasted 37 days.
Then-owner Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. feared that Rice’s holdout would extend into the regular season.
Rice stayed strong and got his deal. The 49ers star receiver wound up signing a contract that made him the highest paid non-quarterback at the time. As a wide receiver in the early '90's, Rice averaged between $7 million and $8 million per year.
Here is a bit from an article by RotoWorld's Adam Levitan:
Year of holdout: 1992
Background: Rice was already well on his way to GOAT (greatest of all-time) status when he challenged the Niners’ front office for a new contract. Between 1986 and 1991, he averaged 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns per season. He wanted to be paid like an elite quarterback after making just $1.75 million in 1991. After a 37-day holdout, Rice finally got his deal.
How he fared: The first six weeks of the season were really slow by Rice’s standards. He was held under 73 yards in each game and had just two touchdowns. Then the explosion came and all was forgiven as the Niners ended up winning their final eight games of the season. Rice posted 654 yards and six scores during that span.
1991 stats: 5.00 catches per game, 75.3 yards per game, 14 touchdowns, 16 games played
1992 stats: 5.25 catches per game, 75.0 yards per game, 10 touchdowns, 16 games played
On the topic of his '92 holdout, ESPN's NFC West Blogger Mike Sando had this quote from Rice:
Rice himself was once a holdout for 37 days in 1992 and has said it was one of the poorest choices he's made, but insists he never would have considered missing time in the regular season.
"I don't know how long I held out, but it was not during regular season," Rice said. "There's no way I would have held out during regular season. I was like, 'Just get it done so I can get back in there with my team and try to win football games and make this team a better team.'"
In the 1992 NFL season, Rice had 84 receptions, for 1,201 yards and 10 touchdowns.
No. 1: Michael Crabtree, 2009
On July 28, 2009, the 49ers' 10th overall pick, Michael Crabtree, was a no-show for the first day of training camp.
And that was just the beginning. Crabtree went on to set a 49ers franchise record as the longest rookie holdout, taking it into the regular season.
At one point, there was a rumor that Crabtree was prepared to sit out the 2009-2010 season and reenter the 2010 NFL draft.
Crabtree was the last rookie holdout of his entire draft class to sign his deal. It was not reported until October 7, 2009 that Crabtree had signed a six-year deal with San Francisco.
After missing training camp, preseason and the first five games of his rookie year, Crabtree made his first start against the Houston Texans in Week 7. Crabtree began his NFL career way behind the eight-ball.