Davis has leverage in contract showdown

This is my Tuesday column on Vernon Davis holding out.

SANTA CLARA – Taped to Vernon Davis’ locker is a white piece of paper that has a message printed on it: “Please come by the EQ Room and try on your helmet. Needs to be fitted by Friday, 5/23.”

I guess Davis missed that message.

You can tell he hasn’t visited his locker in a while. It looks like a diorama collecting dust in a museum. Inside are two packages, three big envelopes, clean shirts on hangers, white socks folded into little balls, bottles of lotion, a stool and pads.

No helmet, though. Only players who showed up to the mandatory mini-camp have 49ers helmets in their lockers.

Last week, I asked Jim Harbaugh if he expected Davis to attend this week’s mini-camp. Harbaugh said yes. He expected incorrectly. Davis wants the 49ers to renegotiate his contract before he returns to the team, so he’s holding out. Starting right guard Alex Boone is holding out, too.

Outside the 49ers’ locker room Tuesday afternoon, looking toward the 49ers’ new stadium and his narrow, open face squinting in the Santa Clara sunlight, Harbaugh answered questions about Davis and Boone. “I’m disappointed in that decision, for them not to be here. There was a voluntary segment to the offseason and we appreciate those guys volunteering to make the team better. Now, it’s mandatory. Not the decision that I envision being the 49er way. Really nothing more to be said about it. The focus will be on what’s going on here. Others may try to make the focus on that story, but our story is on the football side of it.”

The past few months, Harbaugh was happy to put the focus on Colin Kaeperick’s contract. A reporter asked Harbaugh on May 28 if he expected the 49ers to extend Kaepernick’s contract before training camp. “I’m hopeful,” said Harbaugh. “I’m a big proponent of Colin Kaepernick, his abilities. On record as stating that I would like to see that happen.”

Harbaugh lobbied for Kaepernick. Will he lobby for Davis, too? Tuesday afternoon, I asked Harbaugh if he thinks Davis deserves an extension.

“I’m not going to put the focus on that. I’ve told you where the focus is going to be. I understand your desire to make the story something else, and so be it. That’s as clear as I can possibly be.”

In other words, no – Harbaugh does not think Davis deserves a new contract. If Harbaugh thought Davis deserved it, Harbaugh would have said so. The 49ers clearly don’t want to renegotiate Davis’ deal. They expect him to give up his holdout, to fold.

Wishful thinking.

Davis has pushed too many chips into the pot to fold now. He has lost about $270,000 by not showing up to OTAs or mini-camp.

I’d be shocked if Davis ends his holdout without getting a new deal. He is due to earn about $4 million next season, way below his value to the 49ers. He knows he can make or break this particular team. He’s the offense’s only deep threat. He stretches opposing defenses. Without him, the 49ers would have one of the slowest offenses in the NFL. Opposing defenses could play closer to the line of scrimmage. The Niners’ offense would become much more congested and easy to defend.

Davis never will have a better opportunity to ask for a new deal. He caught 13 touchdown passes last season. He almost certainly will catch fewer next season if Michael Crabtree plays the whole year. Greg Roman loves to use Davis as a decoy, extensively used him as a decoy during 2012 when Crabtree was healthy. Davis caught just five touchdown passes that season. If Davis catches five next season, the Niners can say to him, “Gee, you’re 31 and your numbers are declining. Sorry, no raise for you.”

I expect Davis to call the 49ers’ bluff, not the other way around. If Davis holds out into the season, the 49ers would open their brand new stadium without three of their best players – Aldon Smith (likely suspended), NaVorro Bowman (injured knee) and Davis. The 49ers can’t afford to risk losing a bunch of games early in the season and falling behind in the NFC West, the toughest division in football. That’s no way to open a new stadium.

The 49ers should pay Davis. But they can’t capitulate and pay him too soon. If they do, what would they do about Boone and the other players who want to renegotiate? Crabtree wants a new deal. Mike Iupati wants a new deal.

I expect Davis’ holdout to carry into training camp and maybe even through the first three preseason games. And then I expect Davis will get what he wants.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

This article has 146 Comments

  1. I actually do not see them caving on this one. They have receivers, running backs and a mobile quarter back, they cave on Davis and everyone will want a new deal. Kapernick and Davis are in different situations, like comparing apples and oranges.

    1. I think Grant is out of his mind if he thinks the 49ers are going to fold.

      As I posted here before….

      It’s not Grants money so he can spew out as many delusional arguments as he wants. The Bottom Line is the 49ers can not and will not extend or re-do Davis’ contract with 2 years left.

      If the 49ers fold on Davis then they open Pandora’s Box. The message would be clear for ANY 49er player in the future, that they would expect the 49ers Organization to do the same for them.

      NOT GOING TO HAPPEN……Get it Grant?

    2. Ive been coming to this site since maiocco probably started around 2005 or 2006
      Anyways if i know one thing
      Is that Grant is always WRONG..

  2. You expect too much. A BS column. He has no leverage. The niners have all the leverage. Just watch!

    1. this writer should be ashamed of himself. 49ers or any other teams rarely if ever give in to a player that holds out. Joe Staley is way underpaid but he’s showing up. That’s how you get your money.

  3. Silver lining…To hedge the Davis hold out

    1. Hopefully 9ers can start putting in 3 WR packages. Davis is not a good route running receiver. He is not that TE from NE or NO. We need true 3 WRs route combos to exhaust the defense and keep them on their heals. Then bring the two TE set. Then split Davis and Vance out.

    2. Give VMcD some playing time. He’ll improve his blocking, catching and overall understanding of an NFL offense AND the high expectations Niners have in him. Second round pick needs to step up period.

    3. Niners can take a hard line with Davis then plus him back in at anytime. May not be football shape for a few games but significant div games are later in the season. Even if the Niners cave as Grant suggested I suspect it will be a cap friendly deal and not one to justify holding out into the year.

  4. When trying to determine who has leverage you have to ask who loses more when Vernon doesn’t show up. Its a long season and the 9ers need to get to about ten wins to make the playoffs. They can see how the offense does without Vernon and use more 3 WR sets. Might as well right? Thats why you’re paying Kap. Now if Vernon doesn’t show up he starts losing money. Each practice and each game is less change for himself and now its less for his investors. Davis has more mouths to feed now. Unlike the 49ers where they can take a few loses and still go to the playoffs Vernon won’t get his money back.

    So then we look at what happens if the 49ers start losing games with Vernon out. They might cave but the pressure won’t go up too much to sign him. (This also depends on how the offense looks). What if Vernon holds out and the 49ers are winning 4 out of 5 games? Vernon will be less essential and maybe even trade bait. To me Vernon has more to lose by holding out then the 49ers.

    On a side note. What happen to Vernon Davis of last year when he said he put his selfish side behind him? There were stories all about this when Singletary tossed him and how he changed. I see old selfish Vernon again. I can’t believe he said he is playing better than when he signed the contract. Does the team not expect the player to get better each season? They play players for what they have done and their potential, not to maintain their current ability.

  5. Grant good point but one small problem. The 49ers offense won’t go thru Vernon any more or Gore. It’s changing. It won’t be a two headed monster rather a more balanced attack with an emphasis in the passing game. That’s why they got Johnson and Ellington and kept Boldins.Vernon is good player but he is no longer the focal point of the offense and neither will Gore be. Sorry but your highest paid weapon can’t be a tight end, I don’t care how good he is, he’s still a tight end who has to stay in and block 50% of the time.

  6. Since 2011 have the 49ers extended anyone with more than 1 season left on their contract?

  7. Davis has as much leverage as Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner had: NONE. The Niners will let him play his little holdout game until he has no choice but to report.

  8. Ain’t gonna happen. The FO is not gonna set a precedent and I believe they are willing to move on without both Boone and VD’s services if it comes to that.

    1. His not coming in to mini camp might be the first of many ploys to get the Niner’s to trade him. He knows it’s impossible for them financially to give him the money he needs to sustain his brand. If they traded him to say Jacksonville who still have a lot of cap room he might be able to get a big extension. Definitely bigger than the Niner’s could. I don’t think this is about football anymore but the “Brand” with his advisers calling the shots. It’s hard to imagine what tack they will take.

  9. Vernon Davis is treating the 49ers the same way many NFL teams treat host cities…
    “We’ve had a mutually beneficial arrangement…. We have both been enriched by the original deal I agreed (insisted) on… but I sense an opportunity. Give me more money, or I’m going to LA.”

  10. The 49ers are so deep, I see major talent being stolen off the practice squad or cut outright after preseason.

    1) Let Vernon wait. This saves a precious roster spot.

    2) After a few missed games Vernon’s stock will start to plummet.

    3) Odds are a player will go onto IR by game four.

    4) Sign a desperate Vernon to a (slightly) altered deal that allows him to save face, while costing the 49ers next to nothing.

    The 49ers retain a quality red shirt (IR) talent they would have had to cut had Vernon showed up at camp… while getting a fresh Vernon back for the home stretch.

    (There is a risk. If VMac or Celeck gets hurt, Vernon could demand an even bigger contract.)

    Repeat with Boone to have another quality red shirt (IR) players for 2015 the 49ers would have had to cut in August.

    1. Brodietowashington–Are you sure that a player holding out does not count against the 53 man roster? What would a hold out be designated as? Unable to perform?

      1. Good point. The more I think about it, the more I think holdouts do count as part of the 53 man roster.

        There goes my scheme to sneak extra players onto the team. I won’t quit my day job.

        1. Unless it changed with the new CBA, there used to be a category called something like “Failed to Report” that made the player ineligible but retained the player’s rights while not counting against the roster and could later be activated without exposure to waivers. I don’t think Mr. Crabs was counting against the 53 when he held out as a rookie. That was old CBA and he had no contract at all at that point.

          1. This calls for an official question to guys like Grant Cohn, or maybe Matt Maiocco’s weekly chat…

            “Do holdouts like Vernon count against the 53 man regular season roster?” I’m guessing a no answer at this point, but a yes would be good news.

      2. My guess is Brodie meant an active roster spot. As I understand a holdout would still have to count on the 53-man. But I could be wrong.

  11. VD had 35 yards receiving or less in 6 games last year….What about in the big games last year, when it counts? VD had a miserable total of 5 catches for 54 yards receiving in 3 playoff games vs GB, CAR and SEA.
    Maybe Iron Mike was right about guys like VD!!
    “Cannot play with them, cannot win with them, cannot coach with them.”
    It may be time now for Harbaugh to drop his pants to make a point with VD.

  12. Let’s cut to the chase. Two mistakes by Davis:
    1. holding out with 2 years left in his contract, and
    2. negotiating through the press.

    VD, and Grant might believe that VD has the leverage but leverage means absolutely nothing in this context. The Niners management will not set a precedent. He is not indispensable, and as training camp and exhibition season will show, the Niners will not be more than OK without him. What VD did last year or the year before is not a predictor of what he might do this year for this offense.

  13. Let Davis continue his holdout for as long as he likes. He hs a contract. He needs to honor it. He has no leverage. I say we move on without him until he decides to show up. I hope the team just ignores his game. I think we can be successful without him. We will be successful without him.

    1. Yes sir 23J. Move on without Boone too. He must have forgotten he was a troubled undrafted orphan in 2009 and the Niners took a chance on him. They put him on the practice squad….I mean orphan as in NOBODY wanted him.
      I’d rather play with 10 guys and get penalized every play than have self-centered players. A signed contract is a signed contract…..End of story.

      1. Crab15:

        I don’t remember any “[a] signed contract is a signed contract…..End of story” comments from you after the 49ers cut Carlos Rogers when he had multiple years left on his contract.

        1. C Balls – It’s Rogers and his agents fault his contract was poorly constructed in the first place. A “no cut” provision on his contract would’ve solved that. :)

          Obviously the owners would never go for these kind of contracts. They must have a way to deal with declining play or incoming draft picks that out perform the veterans.

          VD is 3rd highest paid TE in the NFL…..He’s clearly being greedy and selfish……Harbs is right….It’s not the 49er way.

          1. They must have a way to deal with declining play or incoming draft picks that out perform the veterans.

            So, when you said that “a signed contract is a signed contract,” you didn’t really mean it. What you really meant was “a signed contract is a signed contract, but only for the players.”

            And what about the players? I think they must have a way to deal with outperforming their salaries. The only way they can do that is to deny their services.

            VD is 3rd highest paid TE in the NFL…..

            That’s a different argument and one with which I agree. Davis has not outperformed his contract.

            But the “a contract is a contract” argument is b/s if it’s not applied both ways.

            1. C Balls – Good points…..I tend to side with the owners usually. Don’t ask me why.

              1. Crab15:

                Because you’re a fan, and you just want to see the 49ers play football (and win). Players doing what they think they need to do to protect themselves gets in the way of that.

            2. Well said, Claude. That’s why I’m much more sympathetic to Boone; you can argue that he outperformed his contract, but it’s difficult to make that argument for Davis.

              1. Well said, Claude.

                Thanks. Too often my genius goes unrecognized.

                Also, I agree with you about the Boone situation being different from the Davis situation. Unfortunately for Boone, the 49ers have several potential replacements at OG.

            3. Claude, that is the nature of contracts. The party that is paying for the services has the right to void the contract if the services being delivered do not match the expected results.

              1. Scooter:

                That depends upon the terms of the contract. NFL contracts do not define expected results (except for bonuses, escalators, de-escalators, etc.). Moreover teams can terminate a player’s contract even if the player has not under performed.

              2. Claude, I don’t know this for fact, but I’m assuming all NFL contracts have written clauses in them outlining the party paying for the services can terminate the contract at any time so long as all money owing to services rendered to date are paid for.

        2. The difference is that Rogers received money for not playing for the Niners this year, while also getting a new contract from Oakland.

          In Davis’ case, he’s been paid commiserate with his production if not more. He has nothing to complain about and no reason to expect more money.

          1. rocket:

            Yeah, but Rogers didn’t receive all of the money called for in his contract, and those who believe “a contract is a contract,” should be bothered by that as much as they are by Davis holding out.

            Don’t get me wrong. I think Davis’s pay matches his performance and that the team should not renegotiate his contract at this time. I also have a sinking suspicion that the Fandex thing is playing far too much of a role in his decision-making.

            1. Claude,

              That is true no doubt, but the player gets money up front that often pays him whether he plays out the deal or not. If he gets cut, he doesn’t have to pay that back and can double dip by signing with another team. Yes the player gets screwed sometimes but not to the degree a team does when they pay a front loaded contract and the player under performs. Neither side gets off cleanly which is probably how it needs to be.

              1. rocket:

                … but the player gets money up front that often pays him whether he plays out the deal or not. If he gets cut, he doesn’t have to pay that back and can double dip by signing with another team.

                Yes, that’s the player’s protection against getting screwed by the team. Players insisting upon upfront money was a reaction to teams screwing them in the past. Contracts like the one the 49ers gave Kaepernick would be the owners’ reaction to the underperformance problem you described. It’s a back-and-forth that hopefully will balance out.

                Btw, if a player doesn’t finish his contract by his own choice or holds out, he usually is on the hook for a representative portion of the upfront money he received.

              2. Claude,

                I think the deal with Kaepernick is about as close to a win win as you will see in the NFL. The pressure is higher on Kap, but it’s a contract that rewards the player handsomely if he plays well, and that is ultimately what the motive and outcome of negotiating a contract should be.

              3. I think the deal with Kaepernick is about as close to a win win as you will see in the NFL.

                That’s probably why the other agents hate it so much.

  14. They should just trade him already get this joke off our team. Let him be a decoy for some other team, we have the WR now and as long as they stay healthy we will be fine with him. I rather extend Crabtree over Davis anyways.

    I don’t know why grant says he’s our only deep threat, I’ve seen plenty of times Crabtree open deep and the passes miss or he’s not even thrown to. Let teams play soft thinking we can’t get deep and watch us shred the defense. This coaching staff took the niners by the horns and turned them into one of the best teams in the NFL and you’re saying ONE player is going to break our team? It’s a team game and Davis for sure isn’t going to phase the niners.

    1. Idhr – Please post more often…..You seem very intelligent…..Your football IQ is well over 130.

    2. Didn’t you know the 49ers would barely be able to win 6 games without VD, but if we traded Kaepernick for Sanchez, the 49ers could win 10 games….

      1. Razor – Lol….Well maybe the Niners could overtake SEA if VD would show up against them. In the 3 games vs SEA last year he had a whopping total of 57 yards receiving. The “Stat Huggers” can’t argue with an average of 19 yards receiving per game vs Seattle.

        1. Since I just invented “stat hugger” I thought I should define it.

          Stat Hugger : The frequent overuse of meaningless NFL stats when trying to express an opinion on a football blog.

          Here is a photo example of how a “stat huggers” mind works:

          1. Stat hugger lol. I like it. You mean like someone trying to defend Carlos Rogers play by bringing up his stat ratings?

  15. Something about this whole incident smells very fishy. It seems that everything Davis has done has been the wrong thing if he really wanted and extension from the 49ers. By attempting to negotiate through the press he has put the front office in a position that that they couldn’t give into his demands even if they wanted too. I know he is following the advice of his “Brand”brokers but there in that respect there remain two possibilities. They are totally ignorant of how football negotiations take place and doing what Davis has done is counter productive to getting an extension. This might be so because these type of people deal in hype and the manipulation of public perception. Or they could be smarter than that and are attempting to force the Niner’s to cut their loses and trade Davis to a team like Jacksonville who is way under the cap and can give him a big extension. If it works out they can take the credit when they try to get more NFL clients and if it doesn’t they can blame Davis for shooting off his mouth to the media. Interesting because he mentions that he is listening to his advisers while they are claiming that they are not directing his actions.

  16. He should have handled it like Frank, but why would he when he’s the complete opposite type of team mate. There’s no way in hell the 49ers are going to pay him anymore money. He’ll be fined $30,000 a day during training camp, and his signing bonus will be subject to forfeiture. This will upset his investors and cause his “brand” to tank….

  17. As a former football college football player, I say trade him. I’m a fan of VD, always has been, but just like everyone else – he has gone about this all the wrong way. He can be a dominate player but I’m from the school of thought EVERYONE is replaceable. McDonald may be a drop off but right now he’s putting us in a bind. He’s most definitely not adding anything right now. Let’s get everything we can for him, more athletes and youth. Then let’s – let the coaches do what they get paid for, create plays based on the team you have. Last I checked when we made the Super Bowl run Kaep and Crab was the combo. People made a big deal bc VD wasn’t Kaeps main target. So let’s run with the players we got. We don’t have time to look back at what you’ve done.

    1. can’t just trade him. that’s about $4M in dead money that the Niners would have to eat.

      1. i take it back, if they traded him they’d still be up by almost $2M because of what they save on salary.

  18. in no way shape or form do the 49ers give in. It will just send a message that any player that wants a new deal can hold out. you as a writer should be smarter. VD has two years left on his deal and has no leverage. Holding out during training camp and the season will just have him losing more money that he won’t get back. His best bet is to request a trade and get paid on a losing team since he cares more about his brand than football.

    1. Smh. I take it that you have no familiarity with federal trademark law. If anyone reached too far, it was the team when it asked the federal government to protect a trademark that clearly disparaged an entire race of people.

      1. “disparaged an entire race of people”

        Careful you’re gonna hurt yourself reaching like that.

          1. First it’s relative. It’s only a slur to those that are offended by it. I have my Muscogee (Creek) Nation citizenship id card (roll#97380) proving that I am native american and I don’t give two poops about the name.

            Second “disparaged an entire race of people” is laying it on a bit thick especially when members of the “race” you speak of don’t actually give a crap about the name.

            1. Really? There are blacks who aren’t offended by the term “n!gger.” Does that mean it’s not a slur?

              1. By the way the double standard of blacks being the only ones that are “allowed” to use the N word is in itself racist.

              2. Cfc:

                To them it isn’t.

                But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a slur. Just as the most sensitive person in the room shouldn’t be the barometer for whether something is offensive (or disparaging or a slur), neither should the least sensitive person in the room.

                Besides, the National Congress of American Indians is on record stating that the name “Redskins” is a slur. That’s good enough for me.

              3. Actually, it’s good enough for for the Patent and Trademark Office and plenty of other people, I’d bet.

                There’s plenty of evidence that the term was created as a slur and was used as a slur. The oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian organization views it as such. But you’re OK with it, so that means it’s not?

              4. Claude the crux of our discussion has been your use of the term “disparaged an entire race of people.” You’re going down a different path with this discussion. An entire race is not disparaged by the name and I was taking note at the hyperbole.

              5. Cfc:

                You seem to view “disparage” and “offend” as synonyms. They aren’t. You can disparage someone even if they are not offended by what you say.

      2. Claude, I respect your opinion, but I don’t think the name is offensive; their logo is a noble looking warrior. But if it does offend some, how many is necessary for government to get involved? Pick a number. Ok, how can you prove it? You can’t, unless that number is 1, that is, you. But should 1 be sufficient? 10? 100? The concept is ridiculous. It’s also dangerous. If the government is allowed to keep a “s..t list,” what if they decide to put your group on it? You think that can’t happen? Of course it can. It’s better for everyone to just let it go.

        1. George:

          As I wrote in response to Cfc, the National Congress of American Indians is on record stating that the name “Redskins” is a slur. For me, that’s sufficient evidence that enough Native Americans view the name as a slur for the rest of us to recognize it as such.

          Besides, if I were to say that I didn’t think the term “n!gger” was offensive, would that mean that it was okay to use that term as the name of one of the NFL teams? Not so long ago, plenty of Americans didn’t view that term as offensive. I don’t think this is an issue you put to majority rule.

          The government is involved because the team sought federal trademark protection for the name “Redskins.” The trademark statute states clearly that disparaging terms are not registrable.

          The government hasn’t told the team it can’t use the name (it went out of its way to make that point). It has only said that the team is not entitled to register the name on the Federal Trademark Register. There’s no reaching here.

          It’s better for everyone to just let it go.

          That’s easy to say when the slur isn’t being directed at you.

          1. Claude, I don’t want to belabor this or get on your wrong side, but how many people belong to the National Congress of American Indians? I looked online and could not find anything reported. I also found the following link. Have you seen it? First time I have.

            I guess what I’m saying is that any organization can say it represents a large group of people when really it does not. Usually their pronouncements come from just a small group at the top. You see this often in Washington, for example.

            Respond if you want, but I will say no more.

            1. I don’t have to belong to the National Congress of American Indians to know that naming –referring to a team by using color/race/ethnicity, is just plain wrong.

              Imagine the uproar if we had: the New York Jeebes, the Atlanta Negros, we the Dallas wetbacks, and the SF Coolies….. ? Why have the Redskins?

              1. But we don’t have those names and the fact that we don’t but we do have the Redskins should say something. It should say that until very very recently nobody really was bothered by it. Until a very small group of people started to make a fuss nobody was offended by the name at least not to a degree to mention it. Just because a small group decides they are offended by something that has been around without debate for 75+ years doesn’t make them right.

                The fact that I am native american and not bothered by the name is very significant. It lends credence to the fact that the name has existed for 82 years without anybody caring or finding it offensive or if they did they didn’t care enough to actually do anything about it.

                You have a minority that is trying to change something that the majority didn’t have a problem with.

              2. You ought to tell that to your tribal leaders so that they can reign in the out of touch NCAI.

                Perhaps no one raised a stink for so many years because Native Americans traditionally have had less political influence in this country than any other group besides NAMBLA.

                Just because a small group decides they are offended by something that has been around without debate for 75+ years doesn’t make them right.

                No, what makes them right is the fact that the name is a racial slur. And this debate has been going on for more than 20 years.

  19. I and my entire family have always been huge Vernon Davis fans. When we attend Niner games, usually 2-3 games a year, one of us always wears #85’s jersey. But I am extremely disappointed with Davis and this BS “brand” stunt he’s trying to pull on the 49ers. I assume like many do that this holdout and attempted extortion was/is not Vernon’s own idea, but he’s an idiot for listening to the creepy Grima Wormtongue clones at Fantex he’s got surrounding him now. This is not going to end well for VD. I don’t see how it can. I think the Niners should let VD and all his parasites stew in their greed and move on without him. In fact, I think this will actually force Roman to change up the offense and make use of the weapons he now has at his disposal. Maybe Vance will actually step up and justify his 2nd round status and prove that this 49er offense can and will function highly efficiently without Davis. Let the big crybaby lose a few game checks and see how his “advisors” like that s@#%!

  20. Grant has doubled down on an opinion that doesn’t hold up to what has transpired in the past, so everybody should just relax and look forward to the creative/amusing excuses he’ll come up with when he’s ultimately proven wrong…again.

    They don’t have to trade Davis, nor should they. All they’ll do is wait him out and come the start of the season, he’ll either show up or start missing game checks. Contrary to the opinion expressed in this article, Davis has no leverage. His only recourse is to lose money while wasting the final productive years of his career. That’s not a realistic option and everybody involved knows it.

    The team has options at WR that will allow them to change the focus of the passing game if it comes to that, but it won’t. Davis will return and either accept an extension with a modest bonus and cap friendly numbers, or he’ll play under the terms of his existing deal.

    1. LOL. A low blow directed at me, and then the ultimate bet-hedging to top it off. A classic Rocket comment. Well done.

      1. How is what Rocket said about you a “low blow”? You must have paper thin skin if you think those comments were a low blow. You constantly do and say things to get Niner fans riled up but I’ve seen very few low blows thrown at you. Well, i take that back, there are have been some. But not from Rocket. They’ve come from one-time posters, I think.

      2. Ahhhh, the victim is back. Poor Grant doesn’t like the low blows. Rocket’s take was spot on.
        1. Davis will eventually report or he will lose more money.
        2. If he’s lucky, the Niner’s will add another non-guaranteed year onto his contract at close to his current rate. That’s not hedging on a bet, that’s acknowledging the fact that Davis could sign a hollow offer sheet that allows him to save face on paper, but doesn’t guarantee any more money. That would be the “Niner Way.”
        3. The team can’t capitulate to a 30 year old player who is paid as a top three TE and has two years left on his deal. They have younger players who need to be extended.
        4. I’m positive Harbaugh would support Davis if Davis was entering the last year of his deal or was substantially underpaid, like Kaepernick was. Davis has never been underpaid. He has been overpaid from the day he signed his rookie contract, which instantly made him the highest paid TE in the NFL.

        It’s funny how people are vilified on this site when they don’t play along with Grant’s need to be the next Skip Bayless.

        1. GIGANTIC P!! What up bro!!! Tremendous post IMO. Hope you’ve been doin well…..Summer officially starts in 3 days….The chicks are starting to wear less :)

      3. Grant.,

        I speak the truth. I don’t wrap it up in a bow. You have done this many times and you never learn. You make strong opinions that don’t mesh with reality and you are wrong virtually every time you do it. If you are going to continue to do it, I will continue to call you out on it.

        I’m not bet hedging at all. From day one I’ve said the only way Davis will get any more money is with a team friendly extension that has lower salaries on the back end. I’ve been pretty clear that he won’t get his final two years renegotiated and won’t get a big bonus or guaranteed money if he gets anything.

        You believe the team will cave and either rip up the final two years or give him a lucrative extension with big up front money correct? If so, that is vastly different from what I am saying and there should be no confusion.

        1. I’m back as a reminder that Grant might remind us again that he schooled me on the Smith – Kaepernick transition.

      1. Meaningless extension vs returning with tail tucked? At best, Davis’ ego manages a draw in its showdown with Niners brass.

        1. I concur with Crabs. Good to see you back BigP, and stop disappearing for so long. We need you around here.

          1. I appreciate it. You do a great job of explaining your position and I understand your thought process as we generally agree on matters. If Davis secures anything further from them, it will be a team friendly extension solely crafted to allow Davis to save face upon rejoining the team. That’s not fence sitting, it’s common sense.

      2. According to Rocket, the 49ers absolutely will not renegotiate Davis’ contract unless they do. Bold prediction.

        1. If that’s what you got out of the post, then your comprehension skills are as bad as your judgement.

          1. Davis will either get a new deal/extension or play under his current contract. Awesome analysis of the situation.

            1. I’m not going to waste much more time on this Jack as I know you are purposely playing ignorant here, but just so there is no middle ground for others who may get confused based on the comments you and Grant have made toward what I wrote:

              There will be no changes to the last two years of his contract. None. He will continue to make what he is scheduled to make. The only way the team will even consider giving him more money now will be if they agree to an extension beyond the current deal that is not guaranteed/and or low base salaries that make it easy for them to part ways. I have made this point since the story began and am not hedging any bets.

              Grant believes the team will cave and give in to his demands whether it’s a change in his current deal or a lucrative long term extension with large SB/Guarantees; I do not.

              There will be no big bonus or guarantee. There will be no changes to the next two years of his deal.

              I predict he will show up and play under the terms of his current contract with the understanding that the team will look at it next year with no guarantee of anything.

              I can’t make myself any clearer than that.

          2. When is “The Second Annual Anthony Davis, And To A Lesser Extent Colin Kaepernick, Writing Competition” coming to the blog? We should be on version 3.0 by now.

        2. And just to clarify: An extension is not a renegotiation. They will NOT renegotiate his deal. Understand the difference now?

  21. My opinion is that Davis is eyeing the end of his career. He is not planning on playing till he’s 35 years old. I think he wants two to three more years. Call it a hunch.

    IMO Grant is totally off base in terms of how badly we need Davis. Davis was important when Boldin was our only wide out, and Davis was important when Crabtree was 75%. Crabtree is now fully healthy and in his prime, add to that the addition of either Johnson or Lloyd plus the youngster Patton and you have a deadly grouping of WR’s.

    Grant knows Davis is a one trick pony. I actually think we might be more effective running our bigger bodied TE’s underneath and letting them punish DB’s. Those large bodies are a better fit for our power run scheme.

    Grant also likes to point out that we have the slowest WR group in the NFL. What Grant doesn’t understand is that you don’t have to run a 4.3 to be a vertical threat. You have to be a good route runner. This year we have 4 great route runners that can all win one on one matchups. We also will be more explosive at the RB position both because of the added talent and versatility as well as Miller being reinserted as the blocking FB. With the threats we have at RB, our play action will be deadlier than ever. My prediction is that Johnson or Lloyd or possibly Ellington will fill our vertical need just fine.

    I actually think that we should approach Davis and ask if he would entertain a trade. A team like the Raiders, or the Jets or the Bengals have the CAP space and might just give us a 2nd round draft pick for him……

    1. I like this idea and think it would make sense to include Boone. Vernon has shown that he’s not very stable. As for Boone, he might just be angling for a trade to a team that would pay him as a starting left tackle. Package the two of them in exchange for a high first round pick from someone.

  22. While I understand everyone’s frustration with Vernon’s holdout it seems like there is some over-reaction. Get rid of him? Nah. He’s a good player and I want him to stick around and make plays. Coach expressed his disappointment, and now he and perhaps we should just chill and let this play out. At some point he’ll be back and get worked back into the lineup, and my $1 bet is he won’t get a deal reworked until after he reports back, if then.
    If he and/or Boone show up real late to TC, I’d love to see them not start Game#1, but that may be churlishness on my part. A more grown-up view is to keep quiet, welcome them back when they return and understand that bidnez is bidnez.
    We don’t need to trade Vernon. If he holds out into the Regular season, well that might alter the equation.

  23. I wish someone would get arrested so I’d stop hearing about Vernon Davis’s pointless holdout.

    1. Lol. Yeah, but how about a Seattle player this time? I think Harbaugh’s paid his dues for the “above reproach” comment. Let’s let another team’s (Seahawks) players make some of those type of headlines now.

  24. The 49ers will not cave in for Vernon Davis. As important as Davis is to the offense, the 49ers’ owners never appreciate holdouts. Think back to Crabtree his pre-rookie season, they eventually signed him for the exact amount as they were initially offering him. If anything, the 49ers will be less likely to even negotiate with him the longer he holds out. They do not want to set a precedent from which future players will want to mimic Vernon’s ploy. Sadly, we may never again see V.D. in a 49ers uniform.

  25. Oh, and the people who bought vernon’s ipo stock are now losing money be the minute.

  26. Dear Trent Baalke, this fan’s vote: trade Vernon Davis. Consider trading Boone as well – even though he’s underpaid as relatively good guard, this is a fellow whose post-Bowl game behavior made him a laughing stock in the country, and we salvaged this – well, boorish drunk – off the scrap heap of undrafted college linemen.

    The 49ers have a good team, and we will compete for the SB this year as we competed in the last 3 years. But this team is by no means a lock to go all the way (ie, you wouldnt be throwing away a guaranteed SB winner), and given that we have a young quarterback who still needs to make some big strides in terms of his in-the-pocket play, it’s by no means clear that we have to keep at least one, and possibly two, players who are greedy even by NFL standards. Let’s trade these guys and get pieces back who can add some value over the Niners realistic 5 year window. Mr Baalke, you’ve already shown a desire to NOT overpay for roster slots that some of us would deem vital – ie, gamebreaking wide receiver; so why overpay for a TE whose production is likely to only go down in the next few years, having already decided to pay top dollar for him so recently. If dollars really are thrown around like manhole covers, certainly there are better places to throw them.

    1. I second the notion of looking into trading VD and Boone. Mainly because big contracts to them would most likely lead to us losing Iupati and Crabs for NOTHING.

      Now, there may be a soft trade market for VD and Boone. But I doubt it. There aren’t that many impact TEs out there, and Boone has proven he can play LT. Sure, someone could make the argument that that’s why we should pay them. But again, then what do we do with Crabs and Iupati? We cannot re-sign everybody, yet that’s what everybody seems to want. Better to rid ourselves of the distractions now, when we can get the most for them, as teams will want to have a full offseason to integrate them into their systems.

        1. Alright phone messed up!

          But we can get a draft pick which does just as much as Davis is doing by not showing up.

          I’ll take Crabtree all day, someone who isn’t afraid to fight for yards. You’d think on VD being so big that he wouldn’t play so soft. It’s clear all he wants is money, he doesn’t care about the team or to even win a Super Bowl. You put work in to get paid and for someone who isn’t consistently putting up numbers doesn’t deserve to be paid more when he got paid big money. Just my opinion

  27. wow, all the comments from the last post just went right over your head didn’t it?

    1. There’s no way the Niners get strong armed into giving the 3rd highest paid TE in the league a raise. It’s extortion.

    2. Your continued comments that Vernon only getting $4M this year IGNORES what we’ve told you that he signed a FRONT loaded contract so that Vernon’s average annual income is over $7M. He has two years left on that contract.

    3. Moving on without Davis. Yes it won’t be easy, the Niners have painted themselves in a corner (with no viable backup/replacement). And as you and others pointed out, the offense hasn’t done as well when Davis isn’t in it. And while I don’t think the Niners can completely make up for Davis. But there are ways slightly alter the offense to make up for Davis’s absence. The offense generally doesn’t rely on Davis’s pure speed to get deep (it helps). It manufactures deep shots by play action and certain passing concepts. Shallower underneath TE routes while having the Flanker run deeper routes for example, get the flanker match up inside by putting him in motion like a Jet type play and then send him down the seam instead of a shallow cross. More 3WR personnel groups. It won’t be as optimal mixing in all those other packages with extra blockers as efficiently as if you had Davis who combines blocking and downfield route running but I think with some time to prepare the Niners can mitigate Davis’s absence more than they’ve been able to do when he’s missed games midseason.

    4. Just because Davis is special to the Niners doesn’t mean he’s that special to the rest of the league. He has his holes in his game; he’s not the best TE in the game. I’m willing to bet that he doesn’t get anything more than his $7M on the open market. So any self respecting business person would not allow themselves to be bullied into paying an employee more because they have some specific advantage. You bury your bully problems and the rest of the league would back you (ie..blackball Davis). Davis is a tight end and gets paid well as a TE. Remember the last guy that tried to break the established compensation mold with the Niners? Crabtree. How that turn out? Crabtree ended up having to sign an extended year on his initial contract.

    5. Let me help you with your article. Much of Davis’s argument may hinge on Jimmy Graham’s grievance against the Saints that went before an arbiter today. He claims that he’s caught so many balls and the fact that over 60% of the time he lines up wide like a WR anyway, so that he should be paid like a WR. Davis may claim that he gets such a significant portion of the receptions that he could be considered a WR and should be considered for comparable WR compensation. The problem is that by the letter of the CBA, the issue is determined by literally by POSITION; where a player lines up and not what he does. Graham may be able to make his case because the Saints pass so much and Graham spent over 60% of the time lined up (position) wide. The Niners are a run offense team. So often Vernon lined up tight and blocked. And even most of his receptions are from a Tight End position. Vernon lined up wide a handful of times (if I recall) . But not nearly frequently enough to be considered for the POSITION of WIDE receiver.

    btw. Davis isn’t really a “decoy”. He’s running a true route(s). It’s just that defenses knew he was the playmaker and moved their coverage to defend Davis which left Crabtree open for many receptions. If Crabtree starts drawing the coverage, then Davis should be open. The Flanker and the TE usually run a high/low type of stretch play. Usually some sort of post route with Crabtree running a crossing route underneath.

    1. “all the comments from the last post just went right over your head”-

      –> ‘You can’t wake a man who is pretending to sleep’

  28. Grant:
    While, I’m not very encouraged by VMac’s consistent
    pass-catching abilities … what about Celek ?

    I mean.. isn’t his brother doing ok in Philly ?

  29. There is a lot that often goes on behind the scenes on in these holdouts that fans are not privy to.

    My feeling is that Davis is posturing to make a point to his Fantex shareholders. His message is: “Look, I’m trying to increase shareholder value by trying to extend my contract for which the forfeited money is a small cost”.

    No way will he miss game checks and hurt shareholder ROI. Davis will continue to be a key part of the offense this upcoming season. He has almost no leverage.

    Niners have until next off-season while continuing to talk with his agent, and then decide on the path they want to take. If this holdout ends on a reasonable note, and Davis has another very good season, there is a good chance they will extend him by another couple of years, but not at receiver salary.

    Or if nothing works out then, hey, maybe the Niners will win the Super Bowl and pull a Boldin-like trade with the Ravens.

  30. the only way I could see this working out is if Davis isn’t after more gross money but more guaranteed money and an extension.

    The Niners in 2014 right now have about $8M to (possibly) resign guys like Iupati and Crabtree as well as sign draft picks some draft picks (though only the first few will probably count against the salary cap…this year only Ward, Martin, Hyde and now Borland…because of Wright’s retirement…count against the cap).

    In 2015 if the Cap goes up another $10M that would put the Cap at $143M. The Niners have $141M committed without any restructuring. and of course that ASSUMES the cap goes up as high as it did and does not take into account any new deals that Crabtree or Iupati might get. So in 2015 the Niners right now might have only $2M to work with.

    2016 the Niner’s payroll goes off a cliff. The cap is guestimated to reach $160M but let’s be conservative and say $153M. The Niner’s payroll commitment in 2016 right now is $106M. So that gives them almost $50M to work with (this of course assumes a $20M leap in the cap in 2 years….and I guessed conservatively…and that the Niners have not signed any new contracts…which will not be the case). But keep in mind the Niners will have a large chunk of their roster to reconstitute too.

    So money available: 2014 – a little. 2015 – none. 2016 – there’s money to work with. I think Davis knows that he’s a prime candidate to be restructured or possibly released in 2015

    Davis’s best bet is to work with the Niners and give them some cap room this year and especially in 2015. Davis is owed $9M in base salary in 2014 and 2015.

    So what if the Niners offer him a 2 year extension and convert $6.5M of his next two years salary into an option bonus that is prorated over the next 4 years. He’d make about $850K (about vet minimum) in salary and have a prorated signing bonus hit of $1.6M. So Vernon guaranteed what he was going to earn over the next 2 years (and what he may not have earned in 2015) and he gets most of it up front! Then just add on 2 years at $8M per year or so for 2016 and 2017 (which will probably be renegotiated again if the Niners decide to keep him) because they’re only on the hook for $3.2M in 2016 and $1.6M in 2017.

    1. AFFP,
      Such an approach could well work out. I’d think both Davis and the Niners do not want a break since both will lose. Davis is well-settled in the Bay Area with interests beyond football. I don’t see him playing for more than 4-5 more years at most.

    1. They were the better team for much of the game against Chile too. We have a tendency to lift for big games. A pity we didn’t get anything out of either game, but we’ve certainly provided those two teams a tougher game than they were likely expecting!

      1. Scooter,

        Yeah absolutely. It’s a shame because they literally couldn’t have been handed a worse draw. If they have anything left after this they can beat Spain.

  31. Hah, not much chance of sneaking anyone through on Cut-down Day. A friend in KC e-mailed me that when Flowers was released his Chiefs pals were saying it was to make roster space for SF’s & Seattle’s Cut-downs in August. : >o

  32. There’s some truth in this article, I’ll “grant” you that much. Davis does likely fear that his numbers will diminish in 2014. That’s realistic with Kaepernick looking at a full deck of wr’s. The factors that inflated Vernon’s worth in 2013 have evaporated with Anquan, Crab, Stevie, Quinton, Bruce and Brandon all catching Kaep’s passes. And yet Davis is a very important player to SF. He’s definitely their best down field option.

    But there are two fat falsehoods that Grant has been trotting out lately as if they were facts. First off Vernon hasn’t been a successful agent for “stretching” the field. Even with Davis on the field defenses line up with 7-8 guys in the box. Unless you’re expecting our opponents to employ a goal line defense as their base against us, they can’t go any further in the direction of un-stretched. This isn’t an indictment of Vernon. It’s simply a fact that as a down field threat he’s not being respected in the way Grant would have us believe.

    Secondly Vernon is not making 4 Million dollars for 2014. He knows this. We know this. Every single internet and television commentator big and small, smart and smarmy knows this. His base salary is 4 Million but that is not his total compensation. He was paid a 10 M dollar signing bonus with this contract and while he got that money up front, part of that was pay for this season.

    When analyzing his contract in comparison to his te colleagues you’ll find he’s the 3rd highest paid te in football. Nobody debates that. Except here. Signing bonuses, work out bonuses, escalators and de-escalators are a reality of pro football contracts. They have been for years. Is it complicated? Somewhat, but most of us understand how it works. Vernon and his agents definitely do. Grant has taken this willfully ignorant stance on Vernon’s contract for reasons only he knows. I assume it’s not because he’s a novice to the NFL. I assume it’s not because he’s an idiot.

    At least he didn’t call Vernon the most important player on the offense today.

    1. Joe,

      while i have no problem calling out Grant on his errors and even more so when they become stubborn errors, i want to be fair..so I have to say that Grant’s remarks about Vernon “stretching the defense” is correct to a certain degree. What he erroneously calls decoy work is really just route combos synched for specific passing concepts. If Vernon isn’t isolated on a specific defender, then he’s usually being used in a high/low zone stretching type of play where Davis goes down the middle or runs a corner route etc…which draws coverage and lets (usually) the Flanker (Crabtree and sometimes Boldin) to an underneath crossing route (the low to Davis’s high). So those games where Kapernick completed a lot of passes to Crabtree and later Boldin were because Davis was helping them get open.

      on all your other points I agree.

    2. He already has earned a ton of money and doesn’t stand to lose that much if he holds out, relatively speaking. He can afford to holdout if it’s about pride and respect.

      1. i’m not sure what your point is. He’s made some good money and he wants more (or maybe just more security). He’s not going to be making more money if he keeps holding out.

        $4M is still a lot of money, even for Davis. $8M+ is a lot of money if you include next year. In fact $8M is a quarter of his current contract.

        If he wants to go the distance, if you’re the Niners you bury him. And you go after 40% of his signing bonus. So not only does he not make $8M (again, about his salary over the next 2 years). You legally go after $4M of the $10M signing bonus he already put in his pocket.

          1. you’re showing off your inexperience and lack of football knowledge if you think the Niners are incapable of working around Vernon’s absence. It won’t be optimal but it is manageable and just takes some tweaks to the routes and personnel packages. you won’t get some of the match up advantages but you can still operate many of the standard passing concepts the Niners use.

      2. Maybe he should respect the niners and show up when he got paid already. Not like he carried the team to all those playoff wins.

        I hope the 49ers stay put and not give him anything, if they do it should all be based on stats, then the coaching staff should sit him for half the season to ruin his chances and teach him a lesson that 49er football doesn’t work around him and we are about winning championships.

        I believe In this team, coaching staff to keep us at a high level without VD. But we will see what happens all I know is I had faith in them even when we were terrible I always said this is our year and now that we’ve been knocking on the door to win it all! It’s amazing haha. Also we do not need selfish players we need guys who are ready to win and ready to do what it takes to win the Super Bowl.

  33. Grant, Even your own Father says Vernon Davis has no leverage in this holdout. When are you going to get a grip and stop saying the opposite is true? And it’s beating a dead and buried horse at this point, but the whole $4 million figure you keep throwing up as VD’s salary this year is making you look silly. I’m okay with you looking silly, you deserve it as punishment for constantly being annoying and trying to antagonize 49er fans on your blog, but is looking foolish the way you want to make a name for yourself? Just saying…

  34. Look, I know you all know much more than I do but here’s my take. Seahawks have a better defense than 49ers due to our secondary. However you have a better offense and added more targets for Kaep this year. If he gets his accuracy perfected and vision of the field down you won’t have any problems. The other thing is you have an aging team while Seahawks have a young, fast team, as do the cards and Rams. VD and Gore know they are on their way out and if losing VD makes or breaks your team, you’re already in trouble. Admittedly, I don’t follow your roster closely, but I think youre pretty deep in RBs.

    MLynch showed up for OTAs today so he’s back. I expect Gore to do the same.He’s just behaving like a diva.

      1. CORRECTION AGAIN: I was looking at your roster and I was wrong about the 49ers being an old team.

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