The 49ers defense is considered to be one of the top up-and-coming D’s in the NFL this season. One of the reasons for this and how successful the defense was last season is because of starting nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. Franklin had career highs in tackles for a loss (8.5), sacks (2) and interceptions (1) and was a huge reason why the 49ers ranked third in the NFL against the rush giving up only 3.6 yards per carry. The 49ers placed the franchise tag on Franklin early in the off-season in hopes of signing him to a long-term contract. The deadline for the team and Franklin to reach a deal was on Thursday and now with no agreement reached Franklin will have a one-year contract for $7.003 million. Now it is up to Franklin as to whether or not he will accept the one-year deal or holdout for the year. I doubt Franklin will holdout the whole year however he has missed all of the 49ers off-season workouts. The 49ers might be trying to make Franklin show that last season’s production was not because he was in the final year of his contract and his age, he will be 30 by the start of the season, might be a concern too. I am sure money and the length of contract Franklin wanted was beyond what the 49ers were willing to offer. Not only because of what I mentioned already but also the NFL might have new player salary rule in 2011. On top of that after this season the 49ers will be looking to extend the contracts of Vernon Davis, Dashon Goldson, Josh Morgan and Alex Smith. If Franklin was signed to a long-term, over paid contract some of the players listed might not get the contracts they are looking for and become free agents. All four of those players will be instrumental in the 49ers success for years to come.
If Franklin decides to holdout there are not many options for the 49ers to make up for his production. On the current 49ers roster Franklin is the only listed player at nose tackle. The team has plenty of defensive tackles however moving one of them to fill his spot will not guarantee success at the position and the way the 49ers D stopped the run last season. There were two games last season that stand out in mind when it comes to Franklin’s value to the 49ers. One was in week 5 against the Falcons when he recorded 10 tackles and in week 10 when he picked off QB Jay Cutler as the Bears were threatening to score on the goal-line. I wanted Franklin to sign a long-term deal but if he does not sit out the season this will be a smart move by the 49ers.