As the 49ers stand one win away from their third straight NFC championship game appearance, victory will come at a price.
A big price. To several employees.
The 49ers already plan to sign coach Jim Harbaugh to a long-term extension. The more he wins over the balance of the postseason, the more he’ll be worth.
Ditto for quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the 2011 draft pick who as of last week became eligible for a new contract. The 49ers most likely will begin to explore signing Kaepernick to a long-term deal after the season. With strong postseason play covering up some flawed regular-season performances, the more he wins in January, the more he’ll command.
Then there’s receiver Michael Crabtree, who recently was heralded by Harbaugh as “the greatest catcher of all time.” Those words should be printed and laminated and brought by Crabtree’s agent to a meeting with the 49ers at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Even linebacker Aldon Smith, whose off-field issues have made the team skittish about a long-term contract, could be in line for a big raise if he continues to perform like he did against Green Bay, when he racked up 1.5 sacks. With terms like per-game roster bonuses and voidable guarantees available to protect the 49ers against future suspensions, now could be the time to lock up Smith.
With each additional playoff win, these four men and others will gain momentum toward a financial reward. While it’s a good problem for the 49ers to have, it’s still a problem that will have to be addressed, whenever the season ends.