Signing and waiting

The 49ers agreed to contract terms with draft picks Justin Smiley and Derrick Hamilton before Friday's opening practice of training camp and had both on the field for the late afternoon session. It's a different story, however, with first-round pick Rashaun Woods and All-Pro linebacker Julian Peterson, who remain, as general manager Terry Donahue pointed out after the Niners began their serious summer grind toward the 2004 season, "the only two players who aren't in camp."

Donahue expects to have Woods in by this weekend. He's not so optimistic about Peterson.

In the space of the past two days, the Niners have come to terms with Smiley and Hamilton and signed draft picks Shawntae Spencer, Isaac Sopoaga, Richard Seigler and Andy Lee in a rush of contract negotiations. Sixth-rounder Keith Lewis agreed to a deal weeks ago, and seventh-rounders Cody Pickett and Christian Ferrara signed earlier this week.

Donahue doesn't think it will be much longer before Woods also is in the fold.

"I think we have a fairly good chance to get him here pretty quick," said Donahue, who said "he hoped" that meant by the weekend as the Niners settle into their normal practice routine. "We've been having conversations with their people and I would expect that we'll get that (deal) done fairly quickly. I'd be disappointed if he isn't here in the next 48 hours or so."

Donahue was quick to add, "But you never know. All of a sudden, these deals are going along and you can get hung up on one thing and all of a sudden, it gets to an impasse. But I'm optimistic we'll get it done."

Woods was the 31st player taken overall in the draft. The 30th player selected – Detroit running back Kevin Jones – recently agreed to a reported five-year, $7 million contract. The 29th player selected, Atlanta's Michael Jenkins, also is a receiver whose contract Woods' impending deal might be measured against. Jenkins signed with the Falcons for a six-year, $7.3 million deal that included a $1.5 million signing bonus.

When it was mentioned to Donahue that – as first-rounders go – it shouldn't be that complicated to work a deal for the 31st overall pick, the GM said, "You're right. It should not be very hard. But people can make it hard."

Donahue continues to experience those kinds of complications regarding the contract status of Peterson, who – as expected – officially became a holdout Friday when he did not report to the team in time for its first summer practice.

Peterson, whom the Niners have tagged as their exclusive franchise player, is looking for a long-term deal that would make him one of the highest-paid linebackers in NFL history. Donahue said he has not had contact with Peterson's agents, Kevin and Carl Poston, since earlier in the year, even though negotiations between NFL teams and their franchise players could begin again on July 15 after a league-mandated dead period.

Donahue reiterated what he said earlier this week – that the Niners' six-year, $37.8 million offer to Peterson remains on the table. That deal, which includes a $15.5 million signing bonus, is the richest contract offer in 49ers history.

The Postons are looking for a deal that includes substantially more guaranteed money. Donahue said on Monday that Peterson's agents "want to make him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL," and also said then that the agents had written him a letter stating "that they want him paid like Peyton Manning."

Donahue said he didn't plan on initiating any new dialogue with Peterson's representatives.

"No, there's nothing to really initiate for us," he said. "I think at the end of the day, we obviously want Julian on the team or we wouldn't have made him our franchise player. He's a terrific player and a very important player to the organization. At the same time, when you get to an impasse in contracts, you have a mechanism, which was collectively bargained, which is the franchise tag. So we're comfortable with that. From our standpoint, that's where we are. I expect Julian will come in at some point in time and play on the franchise tag (for a one-year $6.073 million tender offer)."

When asked if that stance could change in the upcoming days or weeks, Donahue said, "I guess if there was real significant movement from Kevin Poston, I guess it would change. But there's not going to be a lot of movement from our position. We don't have a lot of room to go."

Donahue expects Peterson to make it to camp sometime in August to finally make the 2004 49ers whole.

"We're real happy with the (draft-pick) signings," Donahue said. "I'm looking forward to getting this last one done and wrapped up and then, really, we just have to wait until something eventually happens with Julian."


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