Manny Lawson finally spoke today, and there was little fire, no brimstone, and certainly no militant demands for more money. The fifth-year linebacker supposedly is upset with his contract, which calls for a base salary of $625,000 this year, but his feelings sounded more like mild disapproval during his first discussion with reporters this offseason.
Asked if he is dissatisfied with the contract, Lawson answered: “Not dissatisfied with it, but you know, everybody wants a new contract. I wanted to be here. I wanted to be a San Francisco 49er. I would like a new contract, yes.”
That was a softer tone than that expressed by his agent, Jonathan Feinsod, who told the Press Democrat about two hours earlier: “The 49ers are going to do what they feel is in their best interest, and Manny will do what’s in his best interest. Manny would like to be a 49er for the rest of his career, but that’s obviously not the 49ers’ plan right now.”
To hear Lawson tell it, skipping voluntary workouts this spring was no labor protest.
“Coming back now, I kind of feel like it’s brand new,” he said. “… Now I’m more excited. Instead of being here all year round, (when) you know, you kind of see the same things, the building doesn’t really look like it’s changed a lot. But when you step away and come back, it’s almost like you’re on a new team. It’s almost like I just got drafted here again.”
Lawson conditioned at Fisher Sports in Arizona, saying he worked on everything from strength to speed, from explosion off the line to coverage skills. He didn’t feel as though he was risking his position here with the 49ers, though Ahmad Brooks has been getting all the first-team reps in practice.
“Everybody has to work for their position,” Lawson said. “No position’s gonna be handed out, no position’s gonna be given. You have to work for it. So he was in there cause I was away. Now I’m back, now I’m gonna step in and we’ll go back and forth with each other. Competition’s where it’s at.”
Lawson said he never considered skipping the minicamp, which comes as a surprise to those following the situation. He said he informed the 49ers’ coaches of his intent yesterday; that must have been after noon, when coach Mike Singletary told reporters he wasn’t sure of Lawson’s whereabouts.
The linebacker also said he wasn’t sure what sort of progress has been made on a contract extension. There’s no certainty the 49ers are interested in extending him. They have depth at linebacker, and after giving Patrick Willis a huge deal in early May, they are likely to target tight end Vernon Davis next.
Lawson bears no resentment.
“Kudos to them. Kudos to them,” he said. “I’m about everybody getting what they deserve.”