Nothing is settled between the 49ers and Deebo Samuel, and Kyle Shanahan was not going to pretend otherwise Friday night. Maybe things can and will calm down a bit over the next few weeks, but the two sides are not currently making progress toward an agreement or even a ceasefire. Nothing is settled.
Shanahan and John Lynch weren’t trying to sell this as anything else: They’ve decided not to break up with Samuel starting this week, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
OK, one thing was settled. The 49ers didn’t trade Samuel for the first two days of the NFL Draft, something Samuel was pushing them to do last week. But Shanahan didn’t say they clung to Samuel out of the goodness of their hearts or their absolute commitment to keeping him no matter what.
After Samuel publicly requested a trade last week, the 49ers have definitely listened to offers from other teams. They’re set up to listen to just about anything and they were definitely taking calls on this one. And Shanahan didn’t try to hide that he was surprised and probably a little hurt by Samuel’s request.
“Yeah, we were a little disappointed,” Shanahan said. “But that is part of this business. You would consider anything. You have a responsibility to help your organization as much as possible.
“But losing a player like Deebo, it’s hard to see how that helps your organization. You try to look at every aspect of it and… nothing was even remotely close to what we thought was right for us.
It was an honest answer from Shanahan. It was, without further information from Samuel’s camp, about the emotional and rational extent of the situation as we know it.
Samuel wants a contract extension in a very large number; regardless of preliminary talks he had with the 49ers, the team gave Samuel the indication that they weren’t paying anything close to his number; and the relationship remains strained enough for the 49ers to go through at least Thursday given a trade with Samuel.
They got a few strong offers, according to multiple reports, and Athleticism‘s Matt Barrows reported that the Jets’ offer, considered the best, involved the Jets sending the 10th pick and a fifth-round pick to the 49ers, but requesting the return of the 49ers’ second-round pick.
And that pretty much brings us to the 49ers’ “nothing remotely close” conclusion.
But the problem remains. I’ve pointed out a few times that I believe it’s mostly a money situation. Samuel, believing that his ‘wideback’ role as receiver and running back exposes him to potential career-shortening blows, is likely looking for a guaranteed number close to the $72.2 million the Dolphins just included. in Tyreek Hill’s new contract. The 49ers, agreeing that the thing that makes him most valuable could also be shortening his early years, have likely already told him they won’t come close to that number.
There is still plenty of time before the first day of training camp at the end of July. It’s always about negotiations. The two sides can get closer and closer. But right now it seems like a deep divide.
“We can work on anything,” Shanahan said. “I hope when it’s all said and done, it’s the best thing for the Niners, the best thing for Deebo. And I hope it’s the same. Because we would like to continue as we have been. But we’ll take care of what’s in front of us right now.
Of course, Shanahan and Lynch have spoken passionately for years about the importance of chemistry, leadership and team cohesion in the locker room and making sure all players feel they have the commitment. team leadership and vice versa. So I asked Shanahan: why not just drop someone who said they didn’t want to be here?
“I think we know him pretty well,” Shanahan said. “He knows us quite well. Yes, things haven’t been the best in the last two months because of outside perception, but that’s going to happen a lot in this league, especially in contract situations. So you try not to overreact one way or the other. You try to be patient because emotions can run high with people, especially when you care about people and many depend on them.
“But that’s what you have to make sure you don’t react to. You need to make sure that when all is said and done, first and foremost, you are doing what is right for your organization. And then second, you’re trying to achieve a win-win for both parties.
More than anything, the lack of action from the 49ers on Thursday and Friday, and then Shanahan and Lynch’s body language and words on Friday, clarified some important things. Perhaps more importantly, they pointed out what it is do not in regards to.
This isn’t about Samuel’s theoretical displeasure with Trey Lance’s rise to starting quarterback. He agrees that Lance replace Jimmy Garoppolo. The whole team knew this was going to happen the second the 49ers traded to select Lance last year. Lance is the QB1. I understand the key players, while respectful of what Garoppolo has done for the team, are excited to see the new QB in 2022.
As much of this is now communicated on social media, this tweet from Lance in response to another player assuming Samuel was going to be traded to the Jets was telling.
stop it tony
— Trey Lance (@treylance09) April 29, 2022
It’s also not strictly about Samuel wanting to play for a non-California team. In an ideal world, he might prefer to be closer to his childhood home in South Carolina or Miami, where he spends most of his offseasons. But all players have preferences like that. They also want the best job situation they can find – where they can earn, where they can perform at their peak, and where they can get paid the most.
So far, the 49ers are sure to tick the first two boxes, but the third is in dispute. It’s a question of money. This is the structure of the contract. This is a player who intelligently worries about his long-term future in a difficult position and who the team knows is most valuable in that difficult position.
The questions are then:
• Is there room for compromise? It could be something close to the $57 million in guarantees the Eagles just gave receiver AJ Brown after acquiring him from Tennessee. Additionally, several of the teams interested in acquiring Samuel have since added top receivers, so his market may not be as robust. And now the 49ers would get 2023 draft picks if they traded him, which wouldn’t do them any good in 2022.
But Samuel doesn’t have to settle for lesser terms if he thinks he deserves more. And the 49ers don’t have to pay him his number if they don’t want to go that far. Asked specifically about how the Brown deal could shape Samuel’s future talks, Lynch said all deals are unique.
• Without a new agreement, will Samuel skip all off-season activities, including the mandatory June minicamp? I think it’s likely, but that’s the next big thing to come.
• Will the 49ers keep a hard line in training camp, perhaps forcing Samuel to come in on their terms or hold on and cost himself daily fines and potentially nullify his chance to reach free agency the next off-season?
• If Samuel arrives without a new contract or takes one that he doesn’t particularly like, what kind of motivation will he have in 2022?
The answers are unknown. I don’t think the 49ers or Samuel know the answers yet. One element will affect all the others. The 49ers didn’t trade Samuel this week because they weren’t offered enough to do so. They don’t want to stink offensively in 2022, and if they moved Samuel for much less value, they might stink offensively in 2022.
They drafted passing thrower Drake Jackson in the second round. They took running back Tyrion Davis-Price and wide receiver Danny Gray in the third round, neither of which is likely to fill Samuel’s potential void on their own. But they will add to the accumulation of offensive talent that the 49ers will field with or without Samuel.
Of course, they were at their best with Samuel. Catch passes. Run the ball. Do everything. Which, again, is part of the problem, as a jack-of-all-trades Samuel could shorten his career. The problem is money and the only possible answer, now that the first two rounds of the repechage are over, is money. They make each other better, Samuel and the 49ers, when they’re together. At some point, perhaps the dollar figures will be compromised to respect the relationship. Perhaps.
“You know somebody, they know you and… when it comes to a time when it calms down, hopefully it calms down more after this draft and things get a little easier,” said Shanahan. “He’s not someone we just met. We have been with him here for three years.
So can it be salvaged? “I mean, I hope so,” Shanahan said.
(Picture: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)