49ers tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone want new contracts. They’ve boycotted offseason workouts to make it happen.
As Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com points out, that may not be the way to make it happen.
The 49ers have created a precedent that they won’t negotiate until a player shows up. That’s how the team handled it three years ago when running back Frank Gore held out in training camp, and that’s likely how they’ll handle it now.
Still, for a player under contract, the only leverage comes from the withholding of services. Despite terms like “mandatory minicamp,” a player can exert leverage by staying away and paying the fine of up to nearly $70,000.
The question becomes whether Davis and/or Boone are willing to stay away from mandatory training camp, where the fines spike and signing bonus money can be forfeited. The ultimate question is whether the 49ers will blink in the face of these holdouts, or whether they will adhere to the precedent that negotiations won’t occur if a player isn’t abiding by the terms of the deal he already has signed.
In the interim, coach Jim Harbaugh would like reporters to abide by his desire that they not ask him about the situation.
“We covered that pretty thoroughly yesterday,” Harbaugh told reporters Wednesday, when asked again about Davis and Boone. “I’ll just reiterate that I was disappointed in the decision not to come to the minicamp. [I] didn’t call anybody out. There was no call out of anybody.”
Right. And he didn’t pursue Peyton Manning two years ago, merely “evaluated” him. And Harbaugh doesn’t want a new contract that would put him among the highest-paid coaches in the game.
“I thought that was ridiculous,” Harbaugh said of the characterization that he “called out” Davis and Boone by saying their absence isn’t “the 49er way.” (If that’s not calling them out, we’d love to see what he considers calling them out to be.) “And then, the second point is that we’re going to keep the focus on what is going on here, who is here and the players that we’re coaching. . . . So, we covered it yesterday and today we’re focusing on guys that are here. . . . To answer the three, four, five follow-up questions, it gets to be badgering. It gets old. I covered it thoroughly yesterday. I don’t feel like there is anything more to say about it at this time.”
The 49ers similarly don’t feel like there is anything to say to Davis or Boone until they show up. We’ll now wait to see whether they do.
And whether Harbaugh calls them out if they don’t.
And whether Harbaugh then claims he didn’t actually call them out, and that it’s ridiculous to think he did.