It's all quiet on the 49ers' contract front, for now

Dan Arkush
49ers ink LB Bowman to five-year extension

With starting FS Dashon Goldson making what he said was a “no-brainer” decision to report to training camp on time after signing his one-year franchise tender of $6.2 million (he made $2 million last year), it’s all quiet on the 49ers’ contract front — for now.

But despite having relatively meager cap money at their disposal ($3 million and some change, at last look), it’s well worth wondering the extent to which the team might be thinking about contract extensions in the not-too-distant future.

Goldson heads a list of key players entering contract years this season that also includes NT Isaac Sopoaga, WR-RS Ted Ginn, TE Delanie Walker, veteran free-agent additions Randy Moss and Brandon Jacobs and — last, but certainly not least — QB Alex Smith, if you take into account the fact he will be receiving the majority of the new deal he signed this offseason only if he’s still on the roster after April 1, 2013.

The contract situation in 2013 really offers food for thought, with DT Justin Smith, ILB NaVorro Bowman and SS Donte Whitner, among other heavy hitters, becoming eligible for free agency at the end of that season.

“It all depends,” one team insider said. “Bowman and Whitner are great examples of quality guys they might try to offer extensions to right now at a lower rate, rather than waiting and probably having to pay a lot more later.

It’s worth keeping a special eye on Bowman, who came on like gangbusters last season but could be a challenge to re-sign, considering the team’s already huge investment in fellow ILB Patrick Willis.

“You can make a strong case right now for Willis and Bowman being the best pair of inside ’backers in the league,” the insider said. “With those two guys, Smith leading the way up front and Goldson and Whitner at safety, the Niners are as strong up the middle as any team in football.”

It’s a lot less likely, though, that the Niners will offer an early contract extension to Smith before either Bowman or Whitner.

“Even though (Niners defensive coordinator Vic) Fangio thinks Smith can continue playing at a high level for a lot more years, I think that, at his age (Smith turns 33 on Sept. 30), they will wait to see if he can keep it up this season,” the insider said.