The 49ers would start filling out their roster on July 25, three days before the team is scheduled to assemble for the first time under new coach Jim Harbaugh, according to a post-lockout timeline reported today by ESPN.
On that day, teams would be able to sign undrafted rookies - who will compose the bulk of the new roster additions - as well sign their own free agents. Teams also presumably would be able to start signing their own draft picks of which the 49ers have 10.
Three days later on July 28, when the 49ers are scheduled to open training camp, what promises to be a fast and frenetic veteran free-agent period would begin. The free agency period normally begins the last week of February or the first week of March.
The timeline is contingent on the owners and players reaching an agreement in principle on a new collective bargaining agreement in the next week or so and then ratifying that agreement shortly thereafter. The owners are scheduled to meet on July 21 in Atlanta.
Possible timeline, according to ESPN:
• July 21: Ratify the new CBA, educate the clubs on the news league rules and allow voluntary training for teams and agents.
• July 25: Sign undrafted rookies and give free agents a chance to re-sign with their teams. Training camp rosters are expected to climb from 80 to 90 players under the new CBA. The 49ers currently have 76 players on the roster, including draft picks and free agents. That means the bulk of the new additions promise to be undrafted rookies. Stanford center Chase Beeler, who has been practicing with the 49ers, is likely to be one of them. The team also showed interest during the draft in former Louisville quarterback Adam Froman.
As for their own free agents, quarterback Alex Smith is likely to sign right away. Center David Baas also has said he'd like to return to the team. Others who are likely to return are veteran inside linebacker Takeo Spikes, who had one of his best seasons a year ago, and defensive end Ray McDonald, who could be the team's best bet at left defensive end if Aubrayo Franklin leaves via free agency and Isaac Sopoaga, who started at left defensive end in 2010, moves to nose tackle.
• July 28: The league year starts and free agency begins. The 49ers aren't expected to make a big splash in free agency like they did in 2007 and 2008. However, they would need to find a starting-caliber cornerback if Nate Clements doesn't restructure his contract and the team parts ways with him. Clements has worked out with teammates at San Jose State this offseason and has said he plans to return to the team. The 49ers also could add a veteran quarterback, perhaps someone with starting experience such as Trent Edwards or Bruce Gradkowski.
• Aug 2: -- Rosters must be set at 90 players.
• Aug. 3: -- Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
• Aug. 7: -- A four-day match period for teams to match restricted free-agent offer sheets.
• Aug 12: -- Deadline for rookies to sign contracts (not yet agreed upon).
• Aug. 16: -- Signing period for restricted free agents ends, as does the signing period for franchise and transition tenders.
• Aug. 29: -- Deadline for players to report to earned credit for an accrued season toward free agency.
-- Matt Barrows