The San Francisco 49ers are one of the NFL’s deepest teams. There shouldn’t be many concerns for them heading into training camp, which started this week.
However, there are a few problems for the 49ers. Vernon Davis — although he has reported to camp — has expressed his desire for a new contract with San Francisco. Fellow offensive starter Alex Boone is officially holding out and plans to stay away from training camp until San Francisco rewards him with a new contract.
Coach Jim Harbaugh usually stands up for his players at all times, but when asked about Davis and Boone’s absence from San Francisco’s mandatory minicamps back in June, Harbaugh told Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News:
“(It’s) not the decision that I envisioned being the 49er way,” said coach Jim Harbaugh, noting he did “not beat around the bush” to express his displeasure.
Harbaugh has not commented further on the issue now that Boone’s holdout is official. Boone’s belief is that he — as a starting guard for one of the league’s best offensive lines — deserves more money. He’s got a case there. At $1.6 million, Boone is the 39th highest paid guard.
Boone is not the weak link of the 49ers’ offensive line, either. Ever since earning a starting job (it’s important to note that his current contract was signed when he was a backup), he’s been extremely productive. On top of that, he’s rarely injured. He’s started every game since being named the starter at the beginning of the 2012 season.
The 49ers know that. They know he’s earning less than his play demands. However, the front office shares Harbaugh’s sentiments: holding out is not the “49er way.”
Look at Joe Staley, for example. Staley, who recently signed an extension, also deserved more money. However, instead of holdout, Staley attended the mandatory minicamps and the voluntary workouts and was rewarded with a hefty extension.
Depth has to be taken into account, though. Sitting behind Staley is Jonathan Martin. While with the Miami Dolphins, Martin was subject to bullying at the hands of Richie Incognito. Because of all the controversy surrounding him there, it is unclear whether Martin can play at the professional level.
He was great at Stanford but is a big question mark in the NFL. Perhaps the lack of a solid replacement factored into Staley’s extension.
Behind Boone at right guard is Adam Snyder — the solid veteran — and Joe Looney, who took first-team reps at camp on Thursday. Boone’s desire for an extension could be sabotaged by the talent hiding beneath him.
Still, the 49ers are a respectable franchise. For the most part, their players are paid what they deserve. Boone is hurting his chances at making more money by holding out.
He should report to camp, work on his craft, and notify Harbaugh and the front office that he feels as if he’s underpaid. Chances are, they’ll agree with him.
The same may happen to tight end Davis now that he’s reported to training camp.