49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

June 21, 2011
Key 49ers would be unrestricted free agents under new rules

Information is beginning to emerge about what's inside the NFL's proposed collective bargaining agreement. One of those details is good news to a handful of 49er free agents, whose futures had been in limbo this offseason.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, players with four, five and six years of NFL experience will be unrestricted free agents under the new CBA. That was the case up until last season, the final one in the expired CBA, which made players with fewer than six years of service restricted free agents.

The affected 49ers are safety Dashon Goldson (four years), defensive end Ray McDonald (four years) and outside linebacker Manny Lawson (five years). According to Schefter, all three would be unrestricted free agents - that is, they are free to sign with the highest bidder - once the CBA is ratified and free agency begins.

The 49ers had placed restricted free agent tenders on all three players back in March in case the 2011 season was played under the 2010 rules. Those tenders presumably will be voided with the new CBA. The 49ers declined to place a tender on quarterback Troy Smith (four years), an indication that he is not in their 2011 plans.

The 49ers are expected to try to re-sign Goldson, a two-year starter, and McDonald, a pass-rush specialist whose role could expand in 2011 if nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, also an unrestricted free agent, does not return. Franklin's absence would force defensive end Isaac Sopoaga to play nose tackle.

The team also likes Lawson but used its first-round draft pick on another outside linebacker, Aldon Smith. ESPN's Chris Mortenson has more details about the still-taking-shape CBA here.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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