As the San Francisco 49ers turn the page following the season-ending loss to L.A. in the NFC Championship Game, the futures of stars Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel are front and center, with both players in line for contract extensions this offseason.
On Tuesday, general manager John Lynch said long-term deals for both players have been "budgeted for."
"And so, just to get it out of the way, with he and Nick, we fully understand these guys are pillars of what we're trying to do here," Lynch said. "We've been blessed that we've been aggressive, because we've had a lot of players that we believe are some of the best in the league at what they do. And these guys are no different. And so we have really good lines of communication with their representatives. Those will continue, I'm not going to put any timelines on it, but obviously, planning has been done to account for those guys. And yes, there's some interesting dynamics with Deebo playing multiple positions, but the bottom line, he's an excellent football player. And so, I'm sure that we'll find a way to get that done and like I said, it's been budgeted for."
The fifth-year option on Bosa's contract as a first-round pick in 2019 would keep him under contract through 2023. Samuel has one more year on his rookie deal, and the Niners would have the franchise tag free, if it came to that.
But Lynch and the 49ers want to be proactive with the deals for the stars who will carry the torch for years to come.
In praising Samuel, who turned into the engine of the Niners offense, Lynch quipped he's "our wideback." The play on wide receiver and running back underscores the diversity Samuel brings to Kyle Shanahan's offense and adds a bit of nuance to contract talks.
The coach noted that he expects Deebo to continue to play that hybrid role but added the club needs to be aware of the wear-and-tear on his body.
"Oh, yeah, very similar (role to last year)," Shanahan said. "We have to be careful with that. Running back is different, but he's also built like a running back and runs like a running back. And he just happens to do stuff at receiver also that is really good. If you look at his body, he looks more like a running back. But man, we never want to stop using him at receiver and just the threat that he can be a running back at any time is a huge advantage for your team. And it's a huge advantage for Deebo too. It's a way you can make sure that he gets touches and you can do that at receiver, but not like when you just hand the ball to a guy. So we always have to keep that threat, that's what separates him. And Deebo knows that too. But these last few weeks, you don't take anything to account. It's one game or you go home. So Deebo knows that, I know that, so we're doing what we can to win. And I also think we get some more backs too, you can balance that all out, but we all know how good Deebo is at it and the defense does too. And so knowing that he can be there at any time, just like knowing when a quarterback can be a threat to run at any time. All that stuff is unusual in how to treat personnel groupings and things like that. And that's why that's something I don't see going away for him."
The 49ers sit near the edge of the projected salary cap in 2022, before the expected departure of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, which could free upwards of $25 million off the books. The club could gain more space by structuring new contracts of Bosa and Samuel to push big cap hits into the future.