Cornerback Tarell Brown said today that the 49ers have remained in contact with his agent over the last few days and that he'd be more than happy to return in 2014. "I'd love to stay in the Bay," he said after just finishing a track workout Monday in his native Texas. "That's where my heart is."
Still, that won't stop Brown from checking out what seems like a robust market for cornerbacks. And it won't stop the 49ers from investigating other, perhaps less expensive alternatives on the free-agency market. For instance, a source said the team had called about Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll. He was a fifth-round pick for Miami in 2010. At 6-1, 205 pounds, the 27-year-old Carroll also fits the mold of the bigger, physical cornerback the 49ers and other teams are seeking.
Meanwhile, there appears to be a strong market for 49ers strong safety Donte Whitner. The Chronicle today reported that three other teams - the Browns, Jets and Bears - have called about Whitner, whom the 49ers would like to retain. Cleveland may be particularly intriguing because it is Whitner's home town and because the Browns have a lot of salary-cap room.
As with Brown, the 49ers are looking at alternatives at safety should Whitner depart. Brown would not say which teams have called but said there has been "a lot" of interest over the weekend. Teams are permitted to contact the agents of soon-to-be free agents. Visits, however, cannot be set up until 1 p.m. Tuesday, which is the official start of free agency.
- Matt Barrows