According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, 49ers G Mike Iupati could end up being the highest-paid guard in the league at this point next year.
Iupati is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will be an unrestricted free agent next March.
Barrows mentions that offering Iupati that kind of money would “upset the 49ers’ offensive line hierarchy” and is probably too pricey for them.
As of now, Carl Nicks is the highest paid guard in the league with an average salary of $9.5 million. He signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract that included $31 million guaranteed with the Buccaneers in 2012.
San Francisco has a number of key players to address outside of Iupati including QB Colin Kaepernick, WR Michael Crabtree and possibly OLB Aldon Smith.
As things stand right now, the 49ers have just $2,862,084 in available cap space to work with, which means keeping all of their key free agents seems almost impossible.
Barrows writes that the team is probably eyeing Daniel Kilgore, Marcus Martin or Brandon Thomas as a replacement for Iupati.
In 2013, Iupati was rated as the No. 35 guard in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. He held up pretty well as a run-blocker, but he was just as bad when it came to pass-protecting.
I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about Iupati’s future in San Francisco over the next few months.