Jaquiski Tartt

Ten candidates for 49ers contract extensions


Ten candidates for 49ers contract extensions

The 49ers have plenty of salary-cap space – well more than $100 million projected – to sign Jimmy Garoppolo, some free agents and extend the contracts to retain some of their own players with multi-year deals this offseason.

Prior to the 49ers’ season finale against the Los Angeles Rams, we looked at 10 players who are scheduled to be free agents, and how they might fit into the team’s plans for the future.

Here, we turn our attention to 10 players whose contracts are set to expire after the 2018 season. These players are candidates to receive contract extensions this offseason to keep them off the free-agent market in 2019:

S Jimmie Ward
General manager John Lynch does not seem the least-bit concerned about Ward’s scheduled one-year, $8.5 million salary on the fifth-year option. Said Lynch, “We’re excited to have Jimmie back and plan on him being a big-time contributor to this team.”

The 49ers believe Ward can be a good cornerback. But they see him – if he can remain healthy – as a potential Pro Bowl player at free safety. The 49ers could be reluctant to extend his contract beyond this season until they are convinced he can remain injury-free. He missed 22 games in his first four seasons due to a variety of fractures and soft-tissue injuries. He finished 2017 on injured reserve after sustaining a broken forearm.

DE Arik Armstead
A first-round pick in 2015, Armstead can be retained for the 2019 season on the fifth-year option as a defensive end. The hefty one-year deal is guaranteed for injury only, and a decision must be made by May 2 for the 2019 season.

Armstead underwent season-ending surgery on his hand in mid-October. There are still legitimate questions about whether Armstead fits Robert Saleh’s defensive system. He began the season at pass-rush end before moving to the “big end” position. Armstead has six sacks in 30 career games, and he has missed 18 games the past two seasons due to shoulder and hand injuries.

RT Trent Brown
There is no doubt Brown has the size, strength and agility to attract a big contract. But it is highly unlikely the 49ers will make any kind of competitive offer to extend him past the upcoming season.

There are concerns about Brown’s dedication to put in the work necessary to get the most out of his ability. And it is fair to observe that when players change after signing lucrative contracts, it is generally not for the better.

One big test will be to see how Brown comes back from shoulder surgery that cut short his season and will sideline him for approximately six months.

S Jaquiski Tartt
Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Tartt is a prime candidate for a contract extension. The 49ers like Tartt a lot. They like him as a free safety, but they really like him as a strong safety, playing closer to the line of scrimmage as an eighth defender in the box.

When all the safeties were healthy, the 49ers determined their best lineup consisted of Ward at free safety and Tartt at strong safety. Before Tartt sustained a fractured forearm that ended his season, the team decided to move veteran safety Eric Reid to linebacker. Reid was back at safety in Tartt's role to finish the season.

WR Marquise Goodwin
Goodwin was an exceptional veteran pickup for the 49ers, as he signed a two-year, $6 million contract on the first day of free agency. After four pedestrian seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Goodwin became more of a complete receiver in Kyle Shanahan’s system.

Despite experiencing unimaginable tragedy off the field, Goodwin put together an exceptional season with 56 receptions for 962 yards. There are few players faster than Goodwin, who turned 27 in November.

K Robbie Gould
Gould signed a two-year, $4 million contract on the first day of free agency. In his first season with the 49ers, he set the franchise record in field-goal accuracy, making 49 of 51 attempts for 95.1 percent.

However, Gould, a 13-year veteran, is 35 years old. The 49ers might want to see how Gould holds up in 2018 before making a determination whether he fits into the team’s plans for 2019.

LG Laken Tomlinson
The decision for the fifth-year option was transferred to the 49ers when Tomlinson was acquired in the late-August trade from the Detroit Lions. He was the 28th overall pick of the Lions in the 2015 draft.

Tomlinson got better as the season progressed – a sign the 49ers interpret as the potential for him to settle in as a good player once he fully grasps the offensive system and the techniques being coached. The 49ers are likely to pick up the fifth-year option on Tomlinson by the May 2 deadline.

P Bradley Pinion
Pinion is entering the final year of his contract and would appear to be a strong candidate for a contract extension. He has gotten better every season, and he is still young and getting stronger. (He turns 24 in June.)

Pinion was tied for the ninth most-effective punter in the league with a net average of 41.3 yards. He dropped 31 punts inside the 20-yard line with just one touchback.

OLB Eli Harold
Harold, a third-round draft pick in 2015, enters the final year of his rookie contract. He was used primarily on run downs. Harold’s ability to set the edge in the run game is an aspect of his game that Saleh highlighted late in the season.

The 49ers could buy low on Harold this offseason if they believe he is capable of making significant improvements as a pass rusher on base downs.

LS Kyle Nelson
The long-snapper is the most anonymous player on any football team. . . until he sails a ball over the head of the punter or holder. Nelson, 31, has been very good since his arrival in 2014. He is entering the final year of a four-year extension he signed in March of 2015.

How 49ers' four safeties fit into future plans


How 49ers' four safeties fit into future plans

The 49ers are now starting players who began the season as backups at nearly half of the positions on both sides of the ball.

The team’s reliance on depth, in some cases, has highlighted which positions need to be strengthened in the offseason. But at the two safety spots, it has reinforced to the 49ers how much they like the four players who have seen significant action in those roles.

Here is a look at those four players and how they fit into the club’s plans for next season:

There might be no bigger surprise on the team than Colbert, whom the 49ers first tried out at cornerback and expected him to be little more than a contributor on special teams during the regular season.

A seventh-round draft pick, Colbert was overshadowed by undrafted rookie Lorenzo Jerome during training camp. Jerome became expendable early in the season due to his lack of size and speed, as well as his inability to carve out a niche on special teams.

Colbert, the team’s second-leading tackler on special teams, has started three recent games at free safety and has been exceptional with 18 tackles and four passes broken up. His big hit, causing a fourth-quarter fumble of DeAndre Hopkins, helped the 49ers clinch last week’s victory over the Houston Texans.

Colbert has size (6-foot-2, 205 pounds), range, aggression and toughness. After undergoing surgery to repair a broken thumb, Colbert insisted on returning to action a week earlier than the 49ers anticipated.

There is also a belief his game will go another level in his second season, as he plays faster with a greater knowledge and comfort level of his responsibilities in the deep middle of the 49ers’ standard cover-3 defense.

The 49ers have Colbert under contract at low levels through the 2020 season. They are allowed to negotiate a extension with him after the 2019 season.

Tartt started the first two games at free safety before moving to strong safety, where he started the next five games before he was forced back to free safety. The 49ers feel comfortable about Tartt’s ability to play either position. He has good coverage skills but his size and physicality probably make him a better fit closer to the line of scrimmage.

Tartt’s season ended in Week 9 with a broken forearm. He was the team’s leading tackler for most of the season with an interception and three passes defended.

The 49ers are allowed to negotiate a multi-year contract with Tartt after this season, and he would appear to be high on their list of priorities to lock up to a contract extension before entering the final year of his deal.

The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option on Jimmie Ward last offseason, which means he already has a deal in place for 2018. Because he played cornerback last season – and not safety – his one-year price tag for 2018 jumped nearly $3 million from $5.597 million to $8.526 million. Is Ward worth that much money? That's something the 49ers will have to determine. They could get out of the contract before the new league year begins on March 14.

First off, Ward has not proven he can remain healthy. He has been plagued by a variety of injuries. In his first four NFL seasons, he played all 16 games once. He missed a minimum of five games in every other season, including this year when appeared in just seven games before sustaining a fractured forearm.

His scheduled salary for next season is big. But the 49ers have plenty of cap space, and they are required to eventually spend that money. If the dollars allocated to Ward prevents them from acquiring a targeted offensive lineman, wide receiver or pass rusher, then it becomes a problem. But because the 49ers are currently $54.8 million under the cap, which rolls over to next season, that is probably not going to be an issue.

The 49ers could also try to sign Ward to a multiyear contract with an average dollar amount far south of $8.5 million. But the one-year deal for next season allows the 49ers some flexibility because it would be just a one-year commitment and would not have any financial implications beyond the 2018 season.

Another element Ward gives the 49ers is his versatility. He can play cornerback, too. But his best position is free safety. While the 49ers believe he can be a starter-caliber cornerback, they are confident his can be an All-Pro free safety.

With the three players who are under contract for next season – Colbert, Tartt and Ward – there is little doubt each would play and play a lot in 2018. Injuries seem inevitable. But if each remains healthy and available, the presence of three high-caliber safeties would give the defensive coaching staff flexibility to design game plans to best take advantage of matchups.

There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Reid because he is playing this season under the fifth-year option and is scheduled for unrestricted free agency in March. The 49ers like Reid a lot, but they also really like the three aforementioned guys who are already under contract.

When everyone was healthy near the middle of the season, the 49ers settled on Tartt and Ward as the starters and moved Reid to linebacker. Injuries necessitated the move of Reid back to strong safety, where he has found his niche playing close to the line of scrimmage.

The market could determine whether the 49ers bring back Reid. It is uncertain how much – if any – his role in the protest of racial inequality will impact in how other teams assess Reid's free-agent value.

In other words, it is difficult to imagine the 49ers will get into a bidding war for Reid because of the other players they already have at safety. But if the market is soft for Reid, the 49ers would likely welcome him back at the right price.

49ers place Tartt, Hikutini on IR, sign WR, TE to active roster


49ers place Tartt, Hikutini on IR, sign WR, TE to active roster

During his press conference on Monday, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked if he had enough players to fill out the 46 active spots for next weekend's game against the New York Giants.

'No, we're going to have to sign some guys. We plan on signing some guys in the next couple of days. I know there working on it right now and in to tomorrow. We're going to have to figure that out before Wednesday," Shanahan told reporters Monday.

Those signings started to take place shortly after Shanahan finished talking to the media.

Wide receiver Louis Murphy and tight end Logan Paulsen were signed to one-year deals, the team announced on Monday evening.

Safety Jaquiski Tartt and tight end Cole Hikutini were placed on injured reserve due to injuries suffered in Sunday's loss to the Cardinals.

X-rays revealed that Tartt fractured his forearm on Sunday, while Hikutini suffered an MCL injury.

The 49ers announced that they have signed offensive lineman Andrew Lauderdale to the practice squad.