Kawakami: Deebo Samuel’s new deal is a go-for-it moment for Jed York’s 49ers

Kawakami: Deebo Samuel’s new deal is a go-for-it moment for Jed York’s 49ers

Did Jed York just have his first moment with Joe Lacob?

Although York did not telephone Deebo Samuel‘s agent this weekend to finalize a further extension of $73.5 million over three years in time for Monday’s first padded practice, York surely signed off on the unusual aspects of that deal. Maybe Chief Negotiator Paraag Marathe or General Manager John Lynch suggested it. But again, the owner must agree.

And I believe York has done what Lacob has done many times in recent Warriors history, which we haven’t used to seeing since the 49ers‘ side of town. York basically had to say to its negotiators:

Putting financial caution aside, we need this player right now. Let’s go for that. But now we have to win.

That’s not to say York ran a cheap operation. The 49ers have absolutely paid their players at market rate and are also paying Kyle Shanahan and Lynch very well. The 49ers traded three first-round picks to land Trey Lance in April 2021 and still kept Jimmy Garoppolo‘s big payday on the payroll because Shanahan and Lynch felt it was their best way to win in 2021, and they were right. And York allowed it. Yes, Garoppolo’s salary is still on the payroll now, even with Lance officially installed as QB1. (Although Garoppolo’s salary is expected to drop soon.)

But still, this deal with Samuel feels different because he’s different. This seems more urgent than their usual guarded discussions on the dollar. It seems less plotted and planned. Yeah, that reminds me of Lacob, who’s a pretty solid role model to follow if you want to win. (And spend a lot of money.)

While the 49ers managed to keep the guaranteed money in that deal at $58.1 million – well below the guaranteed totals achieved by top receivers Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp and Davante Adams over the past few months – the relatively short span of three years is a huge team concession. It’s the biggest practical concession I’ve seen the 49ers make in Marathe’s long and incredibly successful negotiating tenure.

The 49ers did it this way to get Deebo back on the practice field after his four “hold back” practices to start training camp. They did so just in time for Monday’s first padded practice, which may or may not have been used as a real deadline by both sides. They did it as Lance and the other quarterbacks struggled a bit to start this camp against the swarming 49ers defense.

They did it because it was time to give in a bit. And they did it because the 49ers think they can win this season. The only way to win, however, is for Deebo to train hard and be happy to be a 49er. So they did.

“You know, I love our team right now,” Shanahan said at the start of camp, “like when I sit down and go over our positions, some of the kids we’ve added, some of the kids from the years who have quickly become some of our best players and leaders. … What I see on paper is that I see an opportunity and … that’s all you can ask for as a coach. And I just want to go work with them.

That tells you a lot about the trust York places in Shanahan and Lynch. It also tells you how the entire brain trust views the 2022 season. And yes, it tells us how badly everyone at the top of this franchise wants to win a title after two trips to the playoffs in the last three seasons.

Basically, if all the reports on this deal are true (and we’ll see more details in the coming days), the 49ers have strayed off schedule with every major expansion they’ve made recently. This is a major, major thing. Fred WarnerExtension: five years. George KittleExtension: five years. Trent Williams’ new contract: six years (with a fake year at the end, so it’s actually a five-year contract.) Garoppolo’s extension in 2018: five years.

The 49ers did it this way because longer trades allow them to spread bonuses over the duration of the trade for capping purposes. For example, Williams’ bonus was $30 million – spread over six years, which only adds $5 million a year to his cap. Kittle’s bonus was $18 million – spread over five years, which only adds $3.6 million per year to the cap. When you do it like this, you can keep the salaries relatively low (because the player is happy to receive the bonus money upfront) and keep the cap hits managed. It also gives the 49ers the right to keep the player longer, of course, without increasing the initial financial risk.

I’m sure the 49ers also wanted five years with Deebo. But the 49ers were unwilling to exceed $60 million in guarantees, which essentially meant they wanted to be able to terminate the contract after three years if Deebo’s production declined while still retaining the right to keep him for 4 years. and 5 if he continued to play at this level.

This is where the “use” stuff came in. I believe the 49ers were concerned that Deebo, with his wideback role, might have a shorter career arc for a running back. I believe Samuel and his agent were not happy that his versatility as a runner was being used against him in these negotiations, which led to his trade request last April.

And it looks like the big trade-off is that the 49ers managed to get the guaranteed money, but they can’t split the bonus anyway on a long-term deal and, if Deebo continues to play well the contract, will have to negotiate with him again fairly quickly.

We will have to see if this contract is added to this last year of Deebo’s original deal and extends until the 2025 season (when he turns 30) or if it replaces this year and then only extends until the 2024 season (when I’ll be 29).

We’ll also have to see if the 49ers have given Samuel any assurance, whether in the contract or not, that they will limit his use as a running back or find a way to reward him if he carries it as much as he does. did at the end of last season. But based on the reports so far, I don’t think that was part of that deal. I don’t know how it could be practically controlled, anyway. If Shanahan turns to Deebo at the end of a huge game and says, “Hey, we need you to pitch it to win this game,” do you think Deebo would check the contract language first? Certainly not.

Deebo wants to win matches immediately. Shanahan and Lynch want to win games immediately. We always knew York really wanted to win and was willing to pay big bucks to do it. And we just found out he has a bit of Joe Lacob in him too, which is almost always a good thing for a team but also increases the pressure. That’s how you negotiate when you really, really want a championship.

(Photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today)


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