San Francisco 49ers have another contract situation on their hands with NFL season approaching

Charvarius Ward, San Francisco 49ers
Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers took care of running back Christian McCaffrey on a two-year, $38 million contract extension earlier this week.

Said deal continues McCaffrey’s run as the highest-paid running back in the NFL. To say that he’s earned it would be an understatement. In 22 games since coming over from the Caorlina Panthers midway through the 2022 season, McCaffrey has put up 3,952 total yards and 39 touchdowns. Those are some absurd numbers.

This comes amid a contract stalemate between San Francisco and disgruntled wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. He’s holding out from mandatory minicamp as the star seeks a new contract from the 49ers. Any new deal would likely come in at $30-plus million annually.

At some point, the dam is going to break in Northern California. In today’s NFL salary cap era, continuing to pay top dollar at several positions is not sustainable.

That brings us to Charvarius Ward and the cornerback’s contract situation with San Francisco. He’s set to hit free agency after the 2024 season and would also like to be locked up long term.

“Yeah, I’d like to stick around. I feel like it’s a good team. They love me here. I love it here. I love all the coaches, love my teammates, but I just let my agent handle it,” Ward said recently, via Pro Football Talk. “That’s the business side of things. I’ll just do my job, go out there and ball, put the pressure on them. Hopefully, they give me a bag. If they don’t, I know it won’t be like any bad blood between me and them. It’s just like it’ll be a business decision, but I’m pretty sure they’d like to have me, and I’d like to stay here, for sure.”

Ward, 28, signed a three-year, $40.5 million contract with San Francisco ahead of the 2022 campaign after the former undrafted free agent spent his first four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.

He has since morphed into one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. In fact, Ward led the league with 23 passes defended en route to earning All-Pro honors a season ago.

  • Charvarius Ward stats (2023): 72 tackles, 23 passes defended, 5 INT, 64.5 QB rating allowed

Related: Updated San Francisco 49ers news and rumors

Can the San Francisco 49ers afford to lock up Charvarius Ward?

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward
Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

It is a complicated question. As of right now, San Francisco has seven players who are among the highest-paid players at their respective positions in the NFL. Some of the average salaries among these players are eye-opening.

  • Nick Bosa: $34 million
  • Trent Williams: $23.85 million
  • Javon Hargrave: $21 million
  • Fred Warner: $19.05 million
  • Christian McCaffrey: $19 million
  • George Kittle: $13.5 million

The 49ers are also likely going to make Brock Purdy the highest-paid NFL player when he’s eligible for an extension next offseason. That’ll come in at north of the $55 million Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is earning on an annual basis.

Given Ward’s body of work, any new extension would likely reset the cornerback market. That is to say, north of the $21 million Jaire Alexander is earning with the Green Bay Packers.

At some point, something has to give.

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