Did the 49ers Make the Right Move Extending Joe Staley's Contract?

Daniel ShanksAnalyst IJune 6, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 18:  Offensive lineman Joe Staley #74 of the San Francisco 49ers during a preseason game against the Oakland Raiders on August 18, 2007 at Monster Park in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Greg Trott/Getty Images)

San Francisco continued an uncharacteristically busy offseason Thursday, when the team gave Joe Staley a six-year contract extension.

According to ESPN.com's John Clayton, Staley will have $18 million guaranteed with an opportunity to make as much as $45 million if he pays well.

Clayton commented that the deal was unusual because Staley hasn't played out his rookie contract yet. But General Manager Scot McCloughan made it clear that the team had full confidence in Staley.

"Joe Staley is the type of player we want to continue to add to this football team," McCloughan said. "He's a tough, versatile, no-nonsense type of guy who wants to do whatever it takes to help his team win football games."

But is Staley really as good as McCloughan thinks he is?

Give the guy credit. He's started the first 32 games of his NFL career, showing the ability to play both left and right tackle.

However, his success on the offensive line has been mixed. Numerous Web sites have reported that Staley surrendered 8.5 sacks last year, which is among the highest at his position.

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Some of that might have to do with the fact that Staley moved from right tackle to left tackle last season, replacing the injury-prone Jonas Jennings.

Obviously, going from right tackle to left tackle is a huge difference, not only in terms of footwork, but also in terms of the defensive ends a lineman has to face.

But if a guy gave up 8.5 sacks and was still under contract, would you extend his deal by six years?

He was under contract until 2011. Why not let him play out the contract and see how he does?

What if he gives up double-digit sacks next year? Now you just sank several more millions of dollars into a guy who you had wrapped up for three more seasons.

Personally, I think that Staley will do an excellent job and live up to the contract. But I'm always a little wary of front offices who throw around big money when they don't have to.

A few weeks back, I wrote that the Dre' Bly signing was a sign that the 49ers' front office was moving in the right direction.

Hopefully, the Staley signing isn't an indication that it will be business as usual for the SF brass.

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