Fair to say that for the San Francisco 49ers, it’s been a week. After trying to work through contract extension negotiations with Deebo Samuel, the wide receiver/running back said that he wanted a trade.
“I can’t ever imagine wanting to move on from Deebo,” said 49ers general manager John Lynch.
Lynch confirmed that the 49ers had been in communication with Samuel over the last couple of weeks, but he didn’t want to go into the “particulars” of the situation.
“I think you guys have seen the stories and all that” said 49ers general manager John Lynch. “…I’m just not going to get into those particulars because I just don’t think it’s productive…I think we pride ourselves for our communication with our players, and this case is no different. I’m confident we can find the solutions to work through whatever’s going on.”
For what it’s worth, linebacker Fred Warner, who signed a contract extension with San Francisco last season, echoed that statement, calling the open communication during the process “one of the best parts of our organization.”
Samuel is under contract for another season, before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2023.
The 49ers don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft, and they don’t pick until 61. Even so, trading Deebo Samuel is not high on their list of priorities.
“…[E]ven though we don’t have a first-round pick, you have to be thorough in this process and prepare for everything,” Lynch said. “And so, you go through and do that and he’s just too good of a player. You think of 2019, the 36th pick, to come up with someone like Deebo who, to me, has just been a game-changing player for our franchise. I’ve told Deebo this, I think he’s the perfect illustration. [Former NFL coach] Herm Edwards used to talk about when will meets skill, you’ve got the opportunity to be special. And I think Deebo probably embodies that as much as anyone, he’s got tremendous will, he’s a very talented player.
“I think by virtue of the way he plays, it’s inspiring and so, to me, that entails leadership. Do you make people around you better? He checks that box. He’s a great teammate. And I think of things like prior to games, I get out there and he’s always throwing the ball with the fans. I think he’s been a great member of our community, so we’ve got nothing but love for him and nothing but appreciation for what he’s bought, but you just don’t let guys like that walk. I can’t envision a scenario where we would.”
Pass rusher Nick Bosa is also eligible for an extension, and the 49ers picked up his fifth-year option on Monday. Bosa is not in Santa Clara for the phase one of the offseason program, but it’s not contract-related.
“…[T]he fifth-year option just means in ‘23, we executed that,” Lynch said.
We can work on an extension at any time…And at the appropriate time, we’ll take those next steps. Nick is not here right now, but it has nothing to do with the contract. He and Kyle [Shanahan] communicated and he’s working out back in Florida. He and his brother have their trainer. And believe me, Nick Bosa is working. He shows that each and every time he shows up, that he’s in elite shape.”
Jimmy Garoppolo is still on the roster, and Lynch re-iterated that San Francisco is prepared to “foot the bill” to keep him there if it comes to that. With that being said, conventional wisdom would place Trey Lance as QB1 for 2022.
“…[We always believe in competition,” Lynch said. “I think though, at the same time, we are great believers in what Trey Lance brings to the table. We believe he’s ready. He’s going to have to show that and I think he’s ready to show that to us, show that to his teammates and show that to the world, so we’re excited for that opportunity that he has.”
Center Alex Mack has not given a definitive answer on whether or not he’s coming back for another year, but reading between the lines, it sounds like retirement is the most likely.
“We’ve been in discussions with Alex, communicating with him and I think I would say, the common theme here today, I’m not going to speak for Alex on that,” Lynch said. “I think at the appropriate time, Alex will comment on that.”
If Mack does in fact retire, the 49ers are going to need to draft a center.
“It’s a tough position to come in and play right away,” Lynch said. “You’d be going from one extreme, one of the brighter players in terms of football and communication in Alex Mack. And experienced, just got a lot of experience to a young player…[O]ne thing about our system, I don’t think there’s as much on the center in terms of making every protection call and things of that nature as a lot of systems. Alex, we probably afforded him that opportunity because he was so capable, but that doesn’t have to be the case. And so, there’s things we can do, but absolutely.”
On the Clock
“I think the nature of this job is that it’s always trying and I think that’s also what makes it fun. It’s why I continue to do it. It’s something new every day. I can’t say that sometimes those things aren’t trying, but I like those challenges and I like the challenge of pulling a group together along with Kyle and trying to get the best out of us. And I’m proud of what we’ve done. We haven’t done enough though, because we haven’t won a championship. We’ve knocked on the door a couple of times. And so, what I’m fueled by is the promise of finding a way to get a little bit better, so that we can take that next step and continue to compete for them. But find a way to get over that hump, and that’s what drives me each and every day.”