49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

March 4, 2011
At the end of the labor tunnel -- a ray of light

****Update: 11:10 a.m.****** There are multiple reports that the two sides have agreed to a seven-day extension of the current CBA that will run through Friday, the 11th. The players union and league will resume mediated negotiations Monday. There are to be no transactions during the extension. That means that players whose contracts have run out -- players like Alex Smith, David Baas, Takeo Spikes, etc. -- while not truly free agents, no longer are controlled by the 49ers, either.

As of 8 a.m., the twisting, turning NFL labor situation has ended up here: At the behest of federal mediator George H. Cohen, the players union has agreed to a seven- to 10-day extension of negotiations. The owners are currently deciding whether to accept, and the popular sentiment is that they will do just that.

Some very good reading - I promise it's not dry - about the situation. First, Yahoo's Mike Silver has a nice inside-the-negotiation-room account of the progress that led to today's 24-hour extension. Here's Jason La Canfora on where things stand right now. And The Washington Post's Thomas Boswell provides a history lesson.

The major sticking point between owners and players involves how to divide the approximately $9 billion in annual revenues. As it stands now, owners get $1 billion off the top and players get 60 percent of the remainder. The owners want another $1 billion credit, arguing that if they reinvest that into the league - in the form of new stadiums, international growth, etc. - everyone, including the players, will prosper. The players argue that getting the same slice of a smaller pie amounts to a pay cut, unacceptable considering the bodily sacrifice they make to play the game.

But as the Yahoo story points out, a pathway has emerged out of the labor tangle. The owners are not likely to get another full $1 billion in credit, but they will get some extra funding for reinvestment purposes, which presumably will help fund a new stadium loan program for teams like the 49ers. (The previous one, called the G4 program, is now defunct).

The players might end up being convinced that playing extra regular-season games - the owners are pressing for two more games - would end up increasing their revenue stream. In return, players would get a shorter offseason, fewer spring and summer practice sessions and better long-term health benefits. Furthermore, the implementation of a rookie wage scale might free more money for veteran players.

****Update**** According to the league office, there is to be no team transactions -- extensions, signings, etc. -- during the current 24-hour extension.

There appears to be some disagreement among national writers as to whether, under the current 24-hour extension, teams can still cut players, extend their own free agents and sign existing free agents (players who have been released). For the 49ers, it's likely a moot point. Although the team continues to talk with the agents for some of their soon-to-be free agents, officials hinted last week at the combine that there would be no big moves before the league year ends.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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