The San Francisco 49ers have enhanced the odds that All-Pro left tackle Joe Staley will finish his career with the franchise. Staley and the Niners agreed to a two-year contract extension on Thursday, the team announced:
Albert Breer of NFL Network, reported the news
49ers announce they've signed LT Joe Staley to a two-year contract extension. Now inked thru 2019.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 17, 2014
2-year extension on 49ers LT Joe Staley's deal adds $12M to existing 4 years. $6M bonus added in '15, $4M bonus in '16, $2M raise in '17.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 18, 2014
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport added more financial detail on Friday:
Got details of #49ers T Joe Staley’s complex extension: Adds 2 option years for a total of $18.8M. Can be worth $23.2M if he hits incentives— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 18, 2014
General manager Trent Baalke shared his thoughts regarding Staley's new deal in a release on the team's official website:
In today’s NFL, it is rare for a player to play his entire career with one team. With this extension, Joe will likely be a 49er for life. He is a three-time All-Pro and core member of our football team. His commitment and professionalism have been great assets to our team and our community. This extension reflects our philosophy of investing in our core players.
NFL salary-cap guru Brian McIntyre outlined the financial implications of the extension:
2-yr extension for 49ers LT Joe Staley, team announces. Staley (now signed thru 2019) was due $3.4M in cash in 2014, 33rd among NFL OTs— Brian McIntyre (@brian_mcintyre) July 17, 2014
ESPN's Andrew Brandt provided his take on the contract:
49ers announce extension for Joe Staley. Curious move for player with 4 years left on contract, perhaps addressing some discontent.— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) July 17, 2014
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com alluded to how one NFC West adversary considers Staley the best in the business at his position:
Joe Staley played well last season. Robert Quinn told me he's the best he faces.— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) July 17, 2014
Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports reported back in March that Staley could be in line for a fresh payday because of his consistent performance on the gridiron:
A source indicates the 49ers are considering re-doing OT Joe Staley's contract soon. He's outplayed the 6-year extension he signed in 2009.— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) March 28, 2014
Ever since the arrival of head coach Jim Harbaugh in 2011, San Francisco has gone to the NFC Championship Game three consecutive seasons, with Staley being on the field for every game during that span. Staley has the athleticism to get to the second level of a defense, which is key to the Niners' powerful rushing attack.
Protecting a quarterback's blind side is also important—something that Staley can do with great effectiveness. That is crucial for San Francisco especially now, with young QB Colin Kaepernick signing a $126 million contract extension of his own this offseason.
Kaepernick also tends to use his speed to scramble around, making it all the more important to have a capable left tackle such as Staley to aid his efforts in keeping broken plays alive.
Staley saw some dark days to start his career in San Francisco, but he's stuck it out and has now been rewarded to be part of a perennial Super Bowl contender. The Niners, though, have plenty of work to do to maintain their recent greatness.
According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, tight end Vernon Davis would not report to training camp as of July 12. The same is true for offensive guard Alex Boone, per Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com:
It's less than two weeks before start of #49ers training camp, and I'm hearing no way RG Alex Boone reports on time without a new contract.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) July 12, 2014
Who will win the NFC West in 2014?
There is an immense amount of competition in the NFC West, not least of which is the reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. The Arizona Cardinals are coming off a 10-win campaign and are looking to build on that, while the St. Louis Rams are bound to produce a winning season in Year 3 under coach Jeff Fisher.
Fighting against the grain of innate parity in the modern NFL, along with multiple holdouts and a defense that may decline in 2014, may be too much for the Niners to overcome. The good news is that Staley, who's been loyal to San Francisco for his entire career since the team selected him in Round 1 of the 2007 draft, sets a shining example for his teammates and will stick it out no matter what adversity the Niners face moving forward.
It was wise for Baalke to secure Staley for the long term, but there are more pressing contract issues on the horizon ahead of the team's first training camp practice on July 24.