San Francisco 49ers: Should They Sign Manny Lawson To a New Contract?

Mihir Bhagat@mihirbhagatSenior Analyst IIIJune 18, 2010

SANTA CLARA, CA - APRIL 02:  Linebacker Manny Lawson #99 of the San Francisco 49ers poses for a portrait session on April 2, 2008 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

According to various reports, Manny Lawson is pleading for a new contract from the San Francisco 49ers. Under the current circumstances, he will be paid $630,000 for the upcoming season as he enters the final year of his original five-year rookie deal.

In an interview, Lawson released this statement: “I’m not dissatisfied, but you know everyone wants a new contract. I want to be here. I want to be a San Francisco 49ers. I would like a new contract, yes.”  At this point, however, he has yet to claim the details of his demands.

Lawson is coming off a career year in which he registered 6.5 sacks, making him the team’s sack leader. On the other hand, though, five of them came in the middle of the season, during a seven game stretch. Aside from that, he was not much of a pass-rushing threat.

In addition, it’s fair to say that Lawson has failed to live up to his high expectations as a former first-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft. Over his first three years, he’s only managed to record a total of 5.5 sacks.

This, in my mind, is why the front office should be hesitant to awarding him with a new contract. Realistically speaking, he may not match his promising performance, last season, again.

A prime example is Lawson’s fellow teammate, Parys Haralson. Despite posting eight sacks in 2008, Haralson only had a mediocre five last year. Being a consistent pass-rusher in a 3-4 system is extremely difficult and the team shouldn’t be convinced by one solid season alone.

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Lawson joins Vernon Davis among 49ers players interested in a new deal. Note that just last month, the team signed their 2-time All Pro MLB Patrick Willis to a five-year $50 million deal. Moreover, Alex Smith Frank Gore, Josh Morgan, Dashon Goldson, and Abrayuo Franklin will all be free agents at the end of this year.

That said, the team will have several financial commitments pending and will have to make wise decisions. Rushing through them could significantly set the team back a few years.

Personally, I would approach this by ensuring that Lawson and others prove themselves with impressive performances in what is most likely to be the most crucial season the franchise has had in recent history. Even if that equates in spending a bit more money, it would be much better than pleasing their requests only to discover that they made a poor investment in a one-year wonder.

Of course, I do believe that Lawson should be in the team’s long term plans. Despite struggling in the early portion of his career, it appears as if he is a player on the rise. He has tremendous potential due to his ideal combination of size, strength, and overall athleticism.

Furthermore, unlike Chris Johnson and Darrelle Revis, I admired how Lawson properly participated in the mandatory minicamps this week. In my mind, in order to prove that you are worthy of a new contract, a player must demonstrate his maturity and correct judgment.

Last year, he was an integral part of why the team ranked tied for third best in the league in terms of quarterback sacks. Even though the team bolstered the linebacker core with the addition of Travis LaBoy and the resigning of Ahmad Brooks, they will need Lawson’s services off the edge if they want to continue to generate pressure. As the New York Giants proved in their magical ’08 Super Bowl run, an effective pass-rushing rotation is an essential ingredient to success.

I’m hoping the two sides can resolve the situation in an appropriate manner, when the time comes. However, for now, the top priority should continue to be working hard in the remainder of the offseason in order to best prepared come the season’s start. 

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