49ers

NFL rumors: 49ers' DeForest Buckner rejected contract extension last offseason

NFL rumors: 49ers' DeForest Buckner rejected contract extension last offseason

Atop the list of 49ers' offseason priorities sit the prospective contract extensions for tight end George Kittle and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Both players are entering the final year of their current contracts and rank among the best talents at their respective positions throughout the entire NFL.

San Francisco selected Buckner with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and he has served as the keystone of the defensive line ever since. He was a critical part of the 49ers' run to Super Bowl LIV, and the team reportedly tried to lock Buckner down for the foreseeable future before the journey to Miami it even got started.

The Athletic's John Middlekauff reported Monday that San Francisco offered Buckner a lucrative extension last offseason, which he ultimately turned down.

"I was told that last year they made a very aggressive offer to him," Middlekauff said on "The Haberman and Middlekauff Podcast." "We're talking in the $60 million range ... Fletcher Cox, years ago, got $63 [million]. They offered less than that, and he said no."

However, Buckner recently took to Instagram to argue against Middlekauff's report.

"When did we start believing everything on the internet," Buckner commented.

Entering his age-25 season in 2016, Cox signed a six-year contract extension with the Philadelphia Eagles for $63.3 million guaranteed. Buckner will turn 26 in March, and one could argue he was more productive over his first four NFL seasons than Cox was. Yes, Cox forced two more fumbles than Buckner, but the 49ers' standout started six more games, deflected nearly twice as many passes, recovered one more fumble and totaled 6.5 more sacks.

For that reason, combined with inflation and the fact that the salary cap has risen since Cox signed his extension, it wouldn't be surprising if Buckner sought a higher guaranteed total from San Francisco -- and received it. 

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Whether or not he already has turned down such an offer is anyone's guess. But it shouldn't be long before we find out exactly how much is guaranteed on Buckner's next deal.

One thing is certain: It's going to be a lot.

Will 49ers regret signing Jimmie Ward in free agency? It's complicated

Will 49ers regret signing Jimmie Ward in free agency? It's complicated

Jimmie Ward's career with the 49ers has been far from perfect so far. But coaches and the front office never gave up on the former first-round draft pick. 

And their patience with Ward persisted last season as he played 16 games -- including the playoffs -- for only the second time in his career and the first time since 2015. That turned into pretty paycheck for the safety. 

The 49ers re-signed Ward to a three-year, $28.5 million contract. It's clear San Francisco trust Ward. Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski, however, isn't sold on him. He recently listed Ward as the signing the 49ers will regret for the hefty contract, past injuries and expected regression. 

Ward certainly is a complicated case. 

“His no-nonsense passion for the game amplifies his special physical abilities, while also setting a tone for our defense," general manager John Lynch said after the 49ers made the signing official. "This extension allows Jimmie to continue to grow in our defense and we look forward to seeing where he can take his game."

Ever since the 49ers took Ward No. 30 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, he has been moved all around the secondary. Ward has played both free and strong safety and even dabbled with some time at cornerback. This past season, he found a home at free safety for defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. 

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Ward was the sixth-highest graded safety in the NFL last season, per Pro Football Focus. He totaled 65 tackles and eight passes defensed in 13 regular-season games, and then had 18 more tackles and forced a fumble over the 49ers' three playoff games. 

Once again, though, Ward missed some time last year due to injury. He was out for the first three games of the regular season while recovering from a fractured finger and has only averaged 10.7 games per season through his six-year career. Paying an injury-prone safety over $9 million annually doesn't exactly come without risk. 

Whether it be coaches, front office, his health or his play, Ward's career has lacked consistency. That will continue in 2020 as well after defensive backs coach Joe Woods left the 49ers for the Cleveland Browns. 

[RELATED: Four 49ers selected to NFL's All-Decade Team of 2010s]

There's no doubt Ward comes with risk. At the same time, the 49ers didn't continue to believe in him by accident. The talent is there and Ward fits what Saleh wants to do with San Francisco's defense. 

Only time will tell if the 49ers regret this. For now, they'll show more trust in Ward, just like they did with his new contract.

Richard Sherman, three other 49ers selected to NFL 2010s All-Decade Team

Richard Sherman, three other 49ers selected to NFL 2010s All-Decade Team

Four members of the 49ers were announced Monday as members of the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 2010s.

Running back Frank Gore, tackle Joe Staley, linebacker Patrick Willis and cornerback Richard Sherman were named to the 55-member team in a vote by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 48-member selection committee.

There were eight unanimous choices to the all-decade team: quarterback Tom Brady, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, linebacker Von Miller, running back Adrian Peterson, offensive tackle Joe Thomas, kicker Justin Tucker, defensive end J.J. Watt and guard Marshal Yanda.

Only players who received at least one selection to a Pro Bowl, Associated Press All-Pro team or Pro Football Writers Association all-conference team from the 2010 through 2019 seasons were eligible for the all-decade team.

Gore, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, began his career in 2005 with the 49ers. He has played 15 NFL seasons and ranks No. 2 in NFL history with 15,347 yards rushing. He is currently a free agent. After leaving the 49ers, Gore has played for Indianapolis, Miami and Buffalo.

[RELATED49ers Mailbag: Could Frank Gore or Delanie Walker return to franchise?]

Staley is a six-time Pro Bowl selection, including five consecutive selections to the NFC Pro Bowl team from 2011 to 2015. He has played his entire 13-year career with the 49ers.

Willis retired following the 2014 season but not before earning trips to the Pro Bowl in his first seven NFL seasons, from 2007 to ’13. He was a five-time first-team All-Pro selection.

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Sherman is a five-time Pro Bowl selection, the first four of which came while playing for the Seattle Seahawks. He played for Seattle from 2011 to ’17. Sherman played the past two seasons with the 49ers and earned a Pro Bowl selection for his work during the 2019 season.

Here is the entire All-Decade Team, as announced Monday by the Pro Football Hall of Fame:

OFFENSE
WR – Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones
TE – Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce
T – Jason Peters, Tyron Smith, Joe Staley, Joe Thomas
G – Jahri Evans, Logan Mankins, Zack Martin, Marshal Yanda
C – Alex Mack, Maurkice Pouncey
QB – Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers
RB – Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson
Flex – Darren Sproles

DEFENSE
DE – Calais Campbell, Cameron Jordan, Julius Peppers, J.J. Watt
DT – Geno Atkins, Fletcher Cox, Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh
LB – Chandler Jones, Luke Kuechly, Khalil Mack, Von Miller, Bobby Wagner, Patrick Willis
CB – Patrick Peterson, Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman
S – Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, Eric Weddle
DB – Chris Harris, Tyrann Mathieu

SPECIAL TEAMS
P – Johnny Hekker, Shane Lechler
K – Stephen Gostkowski, Justin Tucker
PR – Tyreek Hill, Darren Sproles
KR – Devin Hester, Cordarrelle Patterson

COACHES
Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll

Editor's note: Matt Maiocco is on the 48-member Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.