NaVorro Bowman's contract promised to be one of the more pricklier ones the 49ers had on their to-do list. After all, two of the team's best players, Bowman and Patrick Willis, play the same position. Moreover, Willis is the face of the 49ers. What would happen if Bowman wanted more money than Willis?
Bowman today said that in the end victories trumped dollar amounts.
"It's not really about money," he said. "At the end of the day, we all play this game and we get paid a good amount of money, but all in all people remember you for the wins, remember you for the team that you're a part of."
"In order for us to keep the guys we have together, we're going to have to give on each side and that's what was done. We worked together, and I wasn't mad about not getting paid more than Pat. He's my brother. We play together, play close together and we're making the same amount of money, just about. So I'm happy about it and won't lose any sleep over it."
It's easy to get a good night's rest when you are due to make as much as $45.25 million, $25.5 million of it guaranteed, which is what's called for in Bowman's five-year deal. Willis' contract is for $50 million, $29 million guaranteed.
Willis, in fact, was one of the first people who learned of the deal.
"As soon as I told him this morning - I wasn't supposed to, but I couldn't keep it from him," Bowman said. "He has a great deal to do with this, too, just playing beside him and him helping me through this season and last year. For me and him to be playing together for the next three years is just a great thing and we're excited about that."
Bowman's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said the two sides began negotiating at the start of the season, and he admitted they were "pretty far apart" at the time. Once the guaranteed portion was settled, he said, the rest fell into place.
"Once we got to a level of guaranteed compensation, we knew we weren't going to get caught up with, 'Who's making more?' NaVorro's not about that," said Rosenhaus, who also has negotiated deals for inside linebackers Jon Beason and Lawrence Timmons. "We were very comfortable with this deal. He's one of the Top 5 highest paid guys at the position."
Rosenhaus said it was rare for a player to get a new contract midway through his third season. "I think only the most proactive teams get it done," he said. "I think this is perhaps the most talented team in the NFL. And if you want to keep all your good players, you have to get deals done now. You can't let guys get to free agency. You can't keep everybody."
Rosenhaus then left the interview to catch up with another client, right tackle Anthony Davis, who like Bowman was a 2010 draft pick.
- Matt Barrows