SANTA CLARA — The start of the 49ers' three-day mandatory minicamp was overshadowed more by the players who were absent than the ones in attendance.
Two-time Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis and right guard Alex Boone skipped the first day of San Francisco's minicamp Tuesday. Both starters are seeking raises despite two years left on their contracts.
Players can be fined nearly $70,000 if they miss all three days of the minicamp, per the NFL's collective bargaining agreement. If Davis and Boone continue to hold out, they set the stage for what could be major distractions leading into training camp next month for a 49ers team that has Super Bowl aspirations.
Coach Jim Harbaugh said he appreciates players who show up for the voluntary workouts in the offseason but expects everybody in attendance for the mandatory meetings. He said he was “disappointed” Davis and Boone are holding out.
“Not the decision that I envisioned being the 49er way,” Harbaugh said. “Really nothing more to be said about it. The focus will be on what's going on here.”
Neither Davis nor Boone has been present during the first eight weeks of the team's voluntary offseason program. Davis sacrificed a $200,000 bonus for missing the workouts.
And while both are seeking new deals, Davis has been the most vocal about his situation.
“In 2010 I signed a five-year, $37 million contract extension with $23 million guaranteed. It was the biggest contract for a tight end in league history. Four years later, and I'm playing at a higher level than I was then, which brings me to why I'm holding out,” Davis wrote in a guest column for MMQB.com on Monday. “It's all about getting paid what you deserve. It's not that complicated. I want the 49ers to win the Super Bowl, and I want to be on the field this summer working toward that goal, but I have to worry about my future first.
“Most of my teammates and many players in the NFL understand that. A few don't,” Davis continued. “Behind closed doors, they'll say they're all about the team and would run through a brick wall for the organization. But when you look closer, they're doing things to contradict themselves. I can't listen to anyone but my family and my advisors, because those are the people who are going to be there when football inevitably dumps me.”
Davis, who initially acted coy about skipping the team's voluntary offseason program, began making his displeasure known publicly shortly before the 49ers announced they had given quarterback Colin Kaepernick a six-year contract extension through the 2020 season that could be worth up to $126 million.
Davis, who is now 30 years old, had 52 catches for 850 yards and accounted for 13 of Kaepernick's 21 touchdown passes last season.
The 27-year-old Boone signed a contract extension while he was a backup offensive tackle in November 2011. He has two years remaining on the deal, which will reportedly pay him $2.25 million this season and $1.45 million next season.
Most of their teammates responded in similar fashion when asked about their — that it's a decision each player has to make.
Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek are expected to receive most of the practice repetitions behind Davis at tight end. Joe Looney is competing at the guard spot, while tackle Jonathan Martin is receiving some time at guard. Kilgore also could go from center to guard.
“It's next man up,” 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “That's how it goes.”