49ers Mailbag: New deal for Davis down on list of priorities

49ers Mailbag: New deal for Davis down on list of priorities
May 31, 2014, 9:30 am
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Vernon Davis ranks No. 3 among tight ends in average-per-year money. New England’s Rob Gronkowski is No. 1 on that list. (AP IMAGES)

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The first week of 49ers organized team activities is finished.

In case you need a quick recap, here it is:

--Quarterback Colin Kaepernick looks like the Six Million Dollar Man but is in line to make at least three times that amount on a yearly basis. Coach Jim Harbaugh believes Kaepernick will have a “breakout season.”

--Kaepernick does not have to worry about the Madden cover curse, either.

--A large focus during OTAs is improving the red-zone offense. And veteran wide receiver Brandon Lloyd does not look too shabby as he competes for a roster spot.

--Linebacker Aldon Smith has made promises to the 49ers about his off-field behavior. And Harbaugh promises to work with Smith and other players to lend assistance.

--Running back Marcus Lattimore is on the field after nursing a hamstring strain. As expected, he’s feeling his way back into the action.

--Tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone have not been taking part in the 49ers’ offseason program due to confirmed dissatisfaction with their contracts.

--Harbaugh certainly gave every indication that Davis and Boone are staying away due to contract reasons. Harbaugh said he knows why they're not participating in the workouts and, in the same breath, added, "I’m not going to speak for another man and what they’re trying to get done with their contract."

And that leads us into another installment of 49ers Mailbag, in which we enlisted some help from our friends on Facebook:

Can the 49ers find money for Boone, Kap, Iupati, Crabtree and V.Davis? (Ehab Elsobky)
Not a chance. Sorry to break the news.

But, really, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke has been saying this all along. The 49ers have braced for some key players moving on. In fact, that has already happened with the departures of safeties Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner over the past two offseasons.

The top priority is, without question, Kaepernick. And the 49ers realize that once he gets what is considered a “fair” contract, the complexion of the roster will change. The NFL's salary cap is on the rise, but it will not increase so dramatically to account for big-money deals for each of the team’s stars.

[RELATED: Source: Vernon Davis seeks new contract]

If the 49ers are unable to reach a contract extension with Kaepernick, they’ll have no choice but to place the franchise tag on him next season. That would mean somewhere between $26 million to $30 million in cap space and real dollars would be devoted to Kaepernick and Aldon Smith alone in 2015.

Last season, the 49ers had behind-closed-doors conversations about the futures of guard Alex Boone and Mike Iupati. The 49ers will likely have to make an either/or decision when it comes to their guards. And the 49ers seemed to prepare for that day with the third-round draft selections of center-guard Marcus Martin and guard Brandon Thomas.

RE: Vernon Davis’ holdout. Your thoughts and what will end up happening? (Andria Herman Golden)
Technically, it’s not a holdout. He has not missed anything mandatory. Right now, it’s just an “absence” that has resulted in his forfeiture of a $200,000 workout bonus.

Davis ranks No. 3 among tight ends in average-per-year money. He has already received a good chunk of his money in the front-loaded $42.559 million extension he signed just prior to the 2010 season opener. New England’s Rob Gronkowski is No. 1 on that list, but his big money kicks in after two more seasons.

The 49ers have a lot more pressing concerns than Davis’ contract. Of course, there are the players entering the final years of their contracts, such as Kaepernick, Iupati and Michael Crabtree.

And even among the players who are under contract for at least two more seasons, Davis ranks behind Boone, Aldon Smith and Joe Staley. Boone is the 38th-highest paid guard in teh NFL. Staley, who ranks 12th among tackles, has reason to want a new contract, too, but he continues to take part in the 49ers’ offseason program.

It would be surprising if the 49ers budge on Davis’ contract. He is 30 years old. And he is signed for two more seasons. The only question is when Davis and his agent, Todd France, who negotiated the 2010 extension, will conclude that the 49ers cannot be leveraged for a new deal.