SANTA CLARA — Nick Bosa is in the fold, guaranteeing a season’s worth of sacks and pressures as the 49ers and their fan base can live happily ever after.
If only it were that easy.
Getting paid is the easy part. Living up to it can be difficult.
The 49ers have been in the business of meting out big contracts since coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch arrived in 2017. And while the 49ers may not regret any of the money they’ve spent, the first season with a player who has signed for big money doesn’t always go as planned.
“Everybody’s situation is different,” linebacker Fred Warner said Wednesday. “That’s part of the business side of it. Everybody thinks it’s all football, but when you get to that part of it, the business side takes over. Now that part of it is down he can just go out and play free.”
A look at the first season after signing a big contract for six players the 49ers made the highest-paid players at their position:
Jimmy Garoppolo (February 2018)
Garoppolo temporarily became the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback, signing a five-year deal worth a maximum of $137.5 million with $74 million guaranteed. It was a huge leap of faith on the part of the 49ers, given Garoppolo’s resume included only two starts in New England and five in 2018 during which the 49ers finished 5-0 after starting the season 1-10.
George Kittle (August 2020)
The 49ers’ star tight end set a new standard in terms of average salary at the position with a five-year, $75 million deal. The contract came following a 2019 season during which Kittle caught 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns and was named first-team All-Pro over Travis Kelce, as well as winner of the Len Eshmont Award for courageous and inspirational play. In 2020, Kittle had a hamstring strain in training camp, then an MCL sprain and finally a foot fracture that landed him on injured reserve. Kittle caught 48 passes for 634 yards and two touchdowns.
49ers linebacker Fred Warner (54) felt the weight of his contract extension for the first half of the 2021 season. Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group
Trent Williams (March 2021)
Acquired from Washington in 2020 after the retirement of Joe Staley, Williams showed no signs of rust after a year off. He was rewarded with a six-year contract worth a maximum of just over $138 million, making him the highest-paid left tackle in the NFL. Williams played at that standard in 2021 and 2022, being named first-team All-Pro each season.
Kyle Juszczyk (March 2021)
He signed a five-year contract worth a maximum of $27 million with guarantees of $9.6 million, making him the league’s highest-paid fullback. He has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of the last six seasons and made valuable contributions as a blocker and receiver. The All-Pro team does not designate a fullback, which is included in the running back category.
Fred Warner (July 2021)
A first-team All-Pro in 2020, Warner also received the Eshmont Award by a vote of his teammates. His new contract was worth a maximum of $95 million and made him the highest-paid player at his position after leading the 49ers with 125 tackles. After signing the contract, Warner led the 49ers again with 137 tackles but struggled in the early portion of the season. Talking with reporters after eight games, Warner conceded the contract had weighed on him. He was not among the seven linebackers on the first- and second-team All-Pro list. Warner returned to first-team All-Pro status last season.
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Deebo Samuel (July 2022)
Samuel had a spectacular 2021 season, catching 77 passes for 1,405 yards and six touchdowns and rushing 49 times for 365 yards and eight touchdowns. He was a first-team All-Pro and winner of the Eshmont Award. Samuel signed a three-year contract worth a maximum of $73.5 million ($58.1 million guaranteed) after earlier wiping his social media clean of all 49ers references. Last season, Samuel caught 56 passes for 642 yards and rushed 42 times for 232 yards. Samuel said he was “awful” last season and although that’s a stretch, he did come to camp in better shape and vowing to be better. He was named a team captain.