The 49ers have a task to accomplish before the regular season.
That task is the extension of All Pro linebacker Fred Warner. Warner is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Typically if a team wants to retain a player, they extend them so they do not play out the last year of their deal to avoid losing them. It is also a show of good faith as to how much they value that player. The 49ers and Warner have not begun contract negotiations yet, but there is still time to extend Warner over the next three months.
However, it will soon become urgent for the 49ers to extend him.
That is because of another All Pro linebacker that is poised to receive an extension as well. That linebacker is none other than Darius Leonard. Both Leonard and Warner are set to reset the linebacker market once their deals are done. Much like the 49ers and Warner, the Cols and Leonard have not had any real talks when it comes to an extension yet.
Both the Colts and 49ers still have plenty of time to ink their star linebackers to an extension. All that remains is who gets it done first? It behooves both teams to lock in their players because whoever allows the other to get a deal done first means that they will have to pony up more in guarantees and/or salary. The 49ers would do well to avoid this situation. They must look to extend Warner before the Colts do, or they will end up coughing up more cash than they need to.
Now that is not to say it will make a difference in how the 49ers view Warner. Even if the Colts sign Leonard first, the 49ers still would and should sign Warner. He still would be worth the extra cash just to topple Leonard's deal. But competitive advantage is everything the NFL. If the 49ers can save some millions of dollars, then it would be a sweet benefit. That extra savings could be used for a free agent or to even extend another player down the line.
Warner is worth every penny and he knows that. He also knows that as soon as he signs his deal that it will immediately become cheaper once Leonard is signed. The 49ers are fantastic when it comes to extensions. Just look at their most recent one with George Kittle last season. I fully expect Warner to endure the similar process as Kittle did.
Regardless, Warner is getting signed. It is just a matter of if the 49ers can gain that competitive advantage.