S.F. stepping up to secure 49ers of future

Shawntae Spencer one day, Adam Snyder the next. The 49ers are locking up some of their best young players with long-term deals that will keep them with the team into the next decade. Snyder signed a four-year extension Thursday, then said of the team's young nucleus of which he's a big part, "That's huge if we can stay together, five, six, seven years, because we can really change things around."

Snyder - just a second-year player - signed a three-year deal as the team's third-round draft pick last year. He's now locked up through 2011 after inking a new contract that will pay him $10.5 million with a signing bonus of four million.

Snyder's extension came a day after Spencer - the team's rising third-year cornerback - signed a five-year extension that will pay him at least $8.5 million in guaranteed money. Spencer, who had two years remaining on the rookie deal he signed as the second of the team's two second-round draft picks in 2004, now is signed through 2012.

Spencer is set to make approximately $20 million over the five-year extension and could make millions more in contract escalators.

But Spencer didn't feel much like talking about his new riches when approached by SFI

"I'm not going to discuss contracts in season," he said. "It's a distraction to myself and my teammates. You can go ahead and write about it, but you're not going to get nothing from me."

When asked if the extension was confirmation of everything he has been working toward, Spencer said, "I'm going to work regardless of what happens. Whatever's going on upstairs … I don't have anything to do with it. That's why I have my agent. I let him do that. I just play ball. I'm happy to be here now. That's how I'm looking at it. It's day to day. That (extension) doesn't mean anything. I've seen plenty of players get new contracts and be gone the next year or the year after. So that doesn't mean anything to me. I'm happy to be here, period. I've seen a lot of people come and go in my two years. That's it. Every day's a blessing."

The 49ers did not announce either of the two extensions, and coach Mike Nolan said Thursday that is for a reason.

While confirming that Snyder had indeed signed his extension, Nolan said, "The reason we're not putting those out there is because the players have asked us not to as well. As you can understand, if it does get (out) there, the other players start to feel insecure about certain things. But it eventually gets out anyway. The thing I think players trust, when we identify them, and we believe in them and they're going to be a 49er, is we want to get something done. But you can't do everyone."

The 49ers, however, are planning on doing similar extensions for several of their top young players.

After getting their salary cap situation in order after Nolan and the team's new management arrived at the start of 2005, the 49ers entered the season with about a $10 million surplus under the NFL's new $102 million salary cap.

"We've gotten our cap situation in a light right now where we can help our football team out," Nolan said. "We haven't been in that situation much. But we're there now. I think this is an example of very good management."

The Niners are putting that space to use wisely - and quickly - and the team also plans to pursue extensions with running backs Frank Gore and Maurice Hicks, safety Mike Adams and offensive lineman Justin Smiley.

"Not all of them want to talk right now," Nolan said. "Some of them like to go to the market. … They still might want to be where they're at, but they'd like somebody else to say, ‘I'm worth this, will you guys pay it to me?' And then we'll have to step up."

The 49ers stepped up extremely early for Spencer and the versatile Snyder, who started seven games at left tackle and one at right guard as a rookie last season. He started last week at left tackle against St. Louis, but is expected to slide over to left guard in place of the injured Larry Allen this week as regular left tackle Jonas Jennings returns against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Snyder, a Southern California native who played at the University of Oregon, echoed Spencer's sentiments when he said he's excited to be part of the team's future plans.

"It's close to home, and I like what we've started here," Snyder said. "I like what coach Nolan and what (offensive line coach George Warhop) have done here. Everything just seems to fit."

And now the 49ers have a few more good fits for their rising team of the future.


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