49ers Blog and Q&A

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

May 14, 2014
49ers sign quarterback Josh Johnson


The 49ers' quarterback carousel continues to turn.

Josh Johnson, who was cut by the Bengals earlier this week, is now with the 49ers, who have five quarterbacks on the roster. The team released defensive tackle Christian Tupou to make room for Johnson.

Johnson, 27, played for Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego, and he spent the 2012 offseason with the 49ers. He lost the battle for third quarterback to Scott Tolzien, who was released a year later. Johnson had a good preseason that year and outplayed Tolzien in the finale. He was picked up by the Bengals on December 26, 2012. He spent the 2013 season there but never threw a pass in Cincinnati, entering games only in a mop-up capacity.

After starter Colin Kaepernick the 49ers have Blaine Gabbert, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, undrafted rookie Kory Faulkner and now Johnson.

-- Matt Barrows

April 15, 2014
49ers sign WR Brandon Lloyd to one-year deal


Veteran receiver Brandon Lloyd, who spent his first three seasons with the 49ers, is back after signing a one-year deal with the team today. Lloyd, 32, had 74 catches for 911 yards with New England in 2012 but sat out last season.

The 49ers took Lloyd with a fourth-round pick in the 2003 draft. He led the 49ers in receiving yards in 2005, but during the following offseason the new personnel chief, Scot McCloughan, eagerly traded Lloyd to the Redskins for a third-round pick in 2006 (the 49ers used it on WR Brandon Williams) and a fourth-round pick in 2007 (OLB Jay Moore).

Lloyd was brash as a young player, wanted to be a rap star and clashed with some of the veterans on the team. One of the players who disliked Lloyd was fullback Fred Beasley who famously complained that, following a grueling road loss, he had to listen to Lloyd talk about the length of his braids on the otherwise quiet plane ride back to San Jose.

The Redskins also grew weary of Lloyd, and he only spent two seasons there. He's been on six different teams over his career.

Still, he has proven to be a very smart and savvy player on the field, and he led the league in receiving yards while with the Broncos in 2010. While with the Patriots in 2012, he had a career-high 190 yards in a loss to the 49ers. In another loss to San Francisco -- this one in London when he was with Denver -- Lloyd caught seven passes for 169 yards.

The 11-year veteran, however, does not play special teams like another longtime veteran at the position, Kassim Osgood. And the 49ers are expected to draft a receiver - or perhaps two - next month.

That, plus the fact that Lloyd signed a one-year deal, suggests that a spot on the roster is not assured in 2014. The 49ers top three receivers currently are Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Quinton Patton. Lloyd joins a group that includes Jon Baldwin, Osgood, Chuck Jacobs, Devon Wylie, DeMarco Sampson and David Reed.

-- Matt Barrows

April 3, 2014
49ers notes: Baalke likes Clemson CB; Brandin Cooks as DeSean-like deep threat


Interesting quote from Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks today. Of course, the 49ers aren't the only team looking for a wide receiver in the draft. The Eagles, picking at No. 22, could use one as well after parting ways with DeSean Jackson. Could Cooks fill that role?

"The man can blow the top off, catch the deep routes, catch the underneath routes, produce in the return game," Cooks told Philly.com. "He's just special. He's a freak. I definitely admire his game. Maybe Chip Kelly is looking to take another speedy receiver in that first round, and that could be me. Who knows? And if that's the case, a lot of people will wonder, 'Can he do it like DeSean Jackson?' In my opinion, I can do it like him and do it better."

It's interesting because the 49ers had at least some interest in Jackson and in another small but speedy wideout, Emmanuel Sanders, in free agency. I see Cooks as more of a catch-and-run receiver, but he certainly did a lot of damage on the outside as well with the Beavers. Do the 49ers look at Cooks that way? If so, he might be someone they're eying in the first round. (But I still think they like LSU's Odell Beckham and perhaps FSU's Kelvin Benjamin more).

Draft analyst Tony Pauline reported this week that 49ers GM Trent Baalke had dinner with Clemson cornerback Bashaud Breeland after his pro day last month. Pauline describes it as "heavy interest" from the 49ers. Breeland is seen as a second- or third-round pick. That's where the strength of the cornerback class lies. The 49ers, meanwhile, have five picks in those two rounds.

April 1, 2014
49ers show interest in DeSean Jackson, will proceed cautiously


****UPDATE**** The 49ers reportedly made a late push for DeSean Jackson, but he ultimately signed a three-year deal with the Redskins.

Trent Baalke last week adamantly denied contacting the Eagles about wide receiver DeSean Jackson. But he never denied having an interest in Jackson, who is now a free agent. Instead the 49ers general manager chose his words carefully: "As of this moment, there's been no discussions between us and the Philadelphia Eagles whatsoever," Baalke said at the owners' meeting in Orlando.

Now it seems as if reports linking the 49ers and Jackson, the former Cal star, have been accurate all along. Both NBC news in Washington, D.C. and ESPN's Adam Schefter report the 49ers are one of the teams interested in Jackson, who recently wrapped up a two-day visit with the Redskins. Other teams with interest include the Raiders, who can perhaps offer him more money than any other squad, the Browns and the Bills.

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to Jackson and San Francisco is the 49ers' strategy when it comes to free agents. If they have a high grade on a player, they'll typically show interest early only to back off later if the price tag does not fit their parameters. For example, they were one of the teams that inquired early about then-Vikings free agent Jared Allen but quickly fell out of the running when Allen made it known he wanted a top-dollar contract.

Their message seems to be: 'If you want to play for a winning team, this would be a great spot. But we're not going to break the bank for you.' In that way, the 49ers could offer Jackson a better chance at making it to a Super Bowl than his other suitors. But the other teams -- especially the Raiders and Browns -- could offer more money and realistically offer him more playing time.

March 31, 2014
A cornerback leader? Carlos Rogers signs with Raiders; Champ Bailey still an option


****UPDATE**** The Raiders announced they have signed Carlos Rogers. The deal is for one year. The 49ers will visit the Raiders this season.

The Raiders, who signed one former 49ers cornerback, Tarell Brown, earlier this month, are looking at another. FOX Sports' Colleen Dominguez reports that Carlos Rogers will visit Oakland today.

Rogers and Brown were San Francisco's staring duo for the last three seasons with Rogers sliding inside to play slot cornerback when offenses used three or more wide receivers. They were part of the team's turnaround in 2011 with Rogers making his first Pro Bowl following a six-interception season.

What's also pertinent following cornerback Chris Culliver's arrest is that Rogers and Brown - especially Rogers - were long-time veterans who took on a leadership role inside the 49ers' locker room. Friday wasn't the first time Culliver, who allegedly struck a bicyclist with his car, fled the scene, threatened a witness with brass knuckles then struck the witnesses' car as he fled again, showed a lack of judgment and maturity.

He famously made disparaging remarks about gays in the run-up to last year's Super Bowl. He also was chastised a year ago after posting an Instagram conversation in which women were referred to as "bitch" and "hoes." The 49ers issued a statement from general manager Trent Baalke at the time saying, "We are aware of the matter, and it is being handled internally."

Three other cornerbacks on the team -- Eric Wright, Perrish Cox and Chris Cook -- also have had well-publicized run-ins with the law. Wright was twice arrested for DUI in Los Angeles. The first case was dismissed. He also was suspended for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs.

March 25, 2014
Nickel options: 49ers sign Perrish Cox to a one-year deal

The 49ers have struck a one-year deal with cornerback Perrish Cox, giving them another option at the critical nickel cornerback position in 2014. Cox played that role during the team's most recent playoff run when Carlos Rogers, who has manned that spot for the last three seasons, was out with a hamstring strain.

Rogers was released this month and is not expected to return. Eric Wright also has played the nickel spot in the past, and either Tramaine Brock or Chris Culliver - the expected starters at cornerback - could slide inside to the nickel spot on passing downs as well. In addition, the 49ers have six picks in the first three rounds of the May draft, and they are expected to use at least one of them on a cornerback.

"I think that will unfold during the offseason exactly what we're going to do there," general manager Trent Baalke said today.

Cox was due to become a restricted free agent this offseason. The 49ers, however, did not tender him and he became an unrestricted free agent. The other cornerbacks on the roster include Darryl Morris and Dax Swanson, both of whom were undrafted rookies last year.

-- Matt Barrows

March 25, 2014
AFC roundup: Andy Reid thinks Alex Smith is "brilliant"


ORLANDO, Fla. -- Hotcakes with Harbaugh? That's tomorrow when the NFC coaches have breakfast with the media. Today was the AFC's turn. Here are some 49ers-related tidbits from the coaches in that other conference ....

When the Kansas City Chiefs gave up two second-day draft picks for Alex Smith, it seemed like a steal for the 49ers. Smith, however, finished the 2013 season with a career-high 3,313 yards (in 15 starts) and led the Chiefs to a surprising playoff berth after they had a 2-14 record the year before.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid today sounded as if he was more than happy with the deal. "He's a brilliant guy," he said of Smith. "He can digest a lot and not be paralyzed by it. I would say with him you're not going to run out of gigabytes, right? He's got plenty of those. He can still function well with a lot of knowledge."

Reid sounded a lot like Smith's previous coaches, especially Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh, in detailing Smith's strengths. Meyer once talked about how Smith would work late into the night on game plans with the Utah coaching staff.

Said Reid: "He's a gym rat. I mean, you've got to kick him out. I was almost on double-secret probation his first week in the building because he wanted to stay there forever. And I'd have to, like, kick him and out and (tell him) to come back. I said, 'You've got to go.' That's how he approaches the game."

March 24, 2014
49ers to re-sign WR Kassim Osgood


ORLANDO -- As expected, the 49ers will bring back special teams standout Kassim Osgood for 2014, according to a league source at the owner's meeting in Orlando. He is set to earn the league minimum for an 11-year veteran, $955,000. The 49ers signed Osgood, 33, as a free agent last season, and along with fellow veteran Ray Ventrone, he solidified a special teams coverage unit that had lapsed in 2012.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Osgood finished with 12 tackles on special teams to go along with one reception for 17 yards that came in the Candlestick Park finale against Atlanta on Dec. 23. The 49ers tied for third in the NFL in kickoff coverage. They finished 13th in punt coverage.

Osgood joins a wide-receiving corps on which Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree will be the starters and that also includes Quinton Patton, Jon Baldwin, Devin Wylie, Brandon Carswell, Chuck Jacobs, David Reed and DeMarco Sampson. The 49ers also are expected to use an early draft pick on a receiver.

Also today, general manager Trent Baalke reiterated his stance that the 49ers have not contacted the Eagles about receiver DeSean Jackson. Reports have consistently linked the 49ers to the former Cal star for the last week.

-- Matt Barrows

March 21, 2014
49ers notes: Hester was on SF's radar; team checks out cornerback


The 49ers' desire to at least check out speedy receivers included another name - ex-Bears wideout and returner Devin Hester, who was signed by the Falcons this week. On a conference call with Atlanta-area reporters, Hester said San Francisco, Seattle, Miami and Tampa Bay were on his list of possible destinations.

The speedy Hester, 31, has been used as a down-field threat in the Bears offense. But he's had perhaps a bigger impact as a punt and kick returner. He has 13 touchdowns on punt returns in eight seasons. San Francisco used a second-round pick in 2012 on LaMichael James, and he served as the primary return man last season.

The 49ers also showed interest in receivers Julian Edelman, Emmanuel Sanders, Hakeem Nicks, Golden Tate and Dexter McCluster during the free-agency period. Edelman, Tate and McCluster all have handled punt returns at some point in their careers.

They also have been linked to Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson, whom Philadelphia reportedly has considered trading. Acquiring Jackson - another receiver with punt-return ability - would mean a $10.5 million salary-cap hit. The 49ers currently have about $3.8 million in salary-cap space, according to NFLPA records.

* The 49ers had a scout at Stanford's pro day Thursday where safety Ed Reynolds and defensive end/outside linebacker Ben Gardner stood out. Inside linebacker Shayne Skov did not do any on-field drills after straining his hamstring.

* The sharp eyes of reader Franco Mazzoli noticed that the 49ers' top college scout, Matt Malaspina, attended Middle Tennessee State's Pro Day. The main attraction there was a cornerback, Sammy Seamster, who ran the 40 in 4.47 and 4.44 seconds, had a 35-inch vertical jump and an impressive 10-4 broad jump. Seamster has good size at 6-0 1/2, 200. His arm length? That critical piece of information has been unavailable heretofore. The 49ers like to use a late-round pick on a cornerback.

- Matt Barrows

March 18, 2014
Cold War over? Baalke, Harbaugh appear to be working together


Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke at each others' throat? Sending snippy emails back and forth? Staring straight ahead when they pass each other in the hallway? Both men are careful not to allow even the slightest peek into their inner sanctum, so it's impossible to say for sure whether any cold war between them has thawed or rages on. But the free-agency period has offered some significant clues that they have been working hand in hand in recent weeks.

* Trading for Jonathan Martin. Baalke is the one who pulls off trades, indeed he's the one that handles any additions or subtractions to the 49ers' roster. But it was obviously Harbaugh who was pushing to add his former Stanford pupil. Harbaugh spoke highly and confidently of Martin when he left the Dolphins in October. He did the same in the independent Ted Wells' report that looked at allegations of bullying and hazing inside Miami's locker room. In short, Harbaugh has been Martin most vocal defender and champion, and his addition to the 49ers' roster has Harbaugh's fingerprints all over it.

* Trading for Blaine Gabbert. As general manager, Baalke is the team's top talent evaluator. But he gives Harbaugh more license when it comes to quarterbacks. Harbaugh took a long look at Gabbert during the 2011 draft. And while we don't know whether Harbaugh lobbied to trade for Gabbert, it's reasonable to assume that Harbaugh had plenty of input before Baalke pulled the trigger on this deal. Quarterback likely was a sore point between the two in the past. In the last three years, the 49ers' backups at the position went from McLeod Bethel-Thompson to Scott Tolzien to B.J. Daniels to John Skelton to McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Baalke would prefer to be less impulsive when it comes to roster maneuvers. That they agreed on adding Gabbert is a positive sign.

March 17, 2014
Sub-par secondary? Don't judge yet, 49ers fans


The 49ers have blown up the secondary they built in 2011 and that ranked in the top 10 in pass defense the past two seasons. But if you thought that unit was going to be great when it was assembled back then, you are either clairvoyant or -- more likely - a big, fat liar.

One of the starting cornerbacks in 2011, Tarell Brown, had started five games in his previous four seasons in the league and none in 2010. He only got the job because Shawntae Spencer pulled his hamstring in training camp. The other, Carlos Rogers, was considered a first-round bust in Washington and was best known for dropping would-be interceptions at inopportune times. Rogers was so lightly regarded that he lasted more than a week in free agency before the 49ers signed him to a one-year deal.

Rogers finished the season with six interceptions and started in the Pro Bowl. Brown started all 18 games and finished with five interceptions, including one in the playoffs.

At safety, the 49ers brought in one experienced starter in Donte Whitner. But there was not a big demand for the undersized, over-drafted Whitner on the free-agent market and he, too, lasted several days before being signed. On other side, Madieu Williams (yes, Madieu Williams; I double-checked it) started the first two games before Dashon Goldson took over. Whitner would go on to have the most iconic defensive play of the 49ers' playoff run when he knocked Saints running back Pierre Thomas out of the game on New Orleans' opening drive. Goldson tied with Rogers for the team lead with six interceptions and, like Rogers, made his first Pro Bowl. The 49ers tied for the league lead in takeaways.

March 16, 2014
Cornerback Walter Thurmond to sign with Giants


Walter Thurmond has left the building. According to a number of reports, the former Seahawks cornerback will sign a one-year deal with the Giants. The contract, for $3.5 million, is similar to the one Tarell Brown signed with the Raiders last week, which makes sense because they are represented by the same agent.

Thurmond was attractive to the 49ers because he had played the nickel cornerback position with the Seahawks. The only two players who manned that spot in San Francisco for the last three years, Carlos Rogers and Perrish Cox, are both free agents. Thurmond visited Jacksonville and the 49ers before agreeing with the Giants.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders never showed up for his Saturday meeting with the 49ers. He instead will sign a deal with the Broncos, ESPN's Adam Schefter first reporter. Three other wideouts the 49ers were interested in also will sign elsewhere: Golden Tate with the Lions, Hakeem Nicks with the Colts and Julian Edelman with the Patriots.

The common thread for the cornerbacks and wide receivers the 49ers have considered so far? They're either 26 or 27 years old. Who else fits that description? Here's a list:

March 15, 2014
Update: Edelman retained by Patriots; Thurmond mulling options

It probably should come as no surprise that receiver Julian Edelman, who visited the 49ers Friday, reached a deal with the Patriots Saturday. Edelman was Tom Brady's favorite target last season, catching 105 passes for 1,056 yards. He simply had more value to New England than he did the 49ers, who will start Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin at wideout and who only use three wide receivers about 20 percent of the time.

Edelman, who is from the Bay Area, took to Twitter to confirm the deal.

Meanwhile, another receiver who drew the interest of the 49ers, Hakeem Nicks, signed with the Colts on Friday. A third receiver, Steelers free agent Emmanuel Sanders, is visiting the 49ers today. Sanders has multiple suitors, including Kansas City and Jacksonville.

Seattle cornerback Walter Thurmond is weighing his options after visiting with the 49ers Friday. He would be a good fit on the 49ers because he plays the nickel cornerback position and because his loss would hurt their division rivals. Thurmond, however, also has multiple suitors, including Jacksonville, where former Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is now the head coach.

-- Matt Barrows

March 14, 2014
Pressing matter: Chris Cook clear about his role with 49ers


As Tarell Brown was signing his one-year deal in Oakland today, cornerback Chris Cook was signing a one-year contract on the other end of the bay

Like Jonathan Martin and Blaine Gabbert before him, Cook - who spent four, often rocky seasons in Minnesota - said he was looking forward to "revamping my career" with San Francisco. "I feel rejuvenated now that I've signed my contract," he said.

Cook, who is 6-2, 212 pounds, said the 49ers didn't mince words about how they saw him fitting into the defense. "They want me to be the press guy," he said. "And that's what I like to do. I feel like I'll fit in well with the one-high (safety) scheme that they like to run. I came from a two-high scheme. And I feel like a one-high scheme and a man-to-man scheme fits me well."

The arch-rival Seahawks, of course, specialize in that one-high-safety concept. Asked if he felt he bore any similarities to Seattle's tall, long-limbed man-to-man specialist, Richard Sherman, Cook said, "He's a great player, and I respect his game a lot. We have similar body types and stuff like that. But other than that, I don't really compare myself to him."

Said Cook: "I'm just coming in to do my job to the best of my ability and help the team continue on a winning path."

-- Matt Barrows

March 14, 2014
Right around the corner: Raiders snag Tarell Brown


Tarell Brown is leaving the 49ers but won't have to go far.

The 49ers' starting cornerback for the last three seasons signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Raiders, who will host their Bay Area rivals in Oakland later this year. The 49ers remained in contact with Brown's agent, Joel Segal, over the week, but the two sides never could settle on a deal. Segal also represents Seattle free-agent cornerback Walter Thurmond, who visited San Francisco today.

Brown's departure means that the entire secondary the 49ers assembled in 2011 is likely gone. One safety, Dashon Goldson, signed with the Buccaneers last year while the other, Donte Whitner, is now in Cleveland. The 49ers cut cornerback Carlos Rogers Tuesday. He remains un-signed.

Brown follows the path of Shawntae Spencer, a cornerback who played eight seasons in San Francisco before joining the Raiders in 2012. Spencer did not play last season.

Brown was fifth-round pick in 2007. He was the team's starter at right cornerback the last three seasons, although a rib injury caused him to miss the last six games of the regular season. That allowed Tramaine Brock to take over as a starter. The 49ers gave Brock a four-year contract extension soon thereafter and Brock promises to be one of the cornerback starters in September. Chris Culliver, who is on schedule to fully recover from an ACL injury, is the frontrunner at the other spot.

As Brown was signing his one-year deal with Oakland, Chris Cook was signing a one-year contract for the 49ers. Like Jonathan Martin and Blaine Gabbert before him, Cook - who spent four, often rocky seasons in Minnesota - said he was looking forward to "revamping my career" with the 49ers. "I feel rejuvenated now that I've signed my contract," he said.

March 14, 2014
Seeking stability: Gabbert hoping to follow Alex Smith's footsteps


The similarities are abundant, right down to the shoulder injury that washed out Blaine Gabbert's second season. The newest 49ers quarterback today said he is seeking stability after a shaky start to his career, and he figures the best landing spot is where another high-profile 49ers passer who had been knocked around a bit finally found his footing.

"You always hear the comparisons," Gabbert said of Alex Smith. "Alex is a great quarterback, and he's done extremely well in Kansas City. And he's a guy that you look and you like to emulate yourself after - seeing the struggles he went through early on his career with all the changes that were going on around him and the way he's persevered through injuries, through all those changes to put himself in the position he's in now and take their team to the playoffs."

Smith, of course, was a former No. 1 overall pick who dealt with two season-ending shoulder injuries and a revolving door at offensive coordinator before Jim Harbaugh and his staff gave him some consistency in 2011. His passer rating - 67.3 to that point - jumped to 90.7 that season, and Smith led the 49ers to within overtime of going to the Super Bowl.

Like Smith, Gabbert was a high draft pick, having gone 10th overall to Jacksonville in 2011. He and Smith are the same height (6-4), they are mobile and they played in read-option offenses in college. They both wear No. 11 (although 49ers receiver Quinton Patton has it now), and they even trained together in San Diego last summer. Kansas City backup Chase Daniel preceded Gabbert at the University of Missouri and suggested he train alongside him, Smith and Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

March 14, 2014
49ers to sign cornerback Chris Cook


Vikings free-agent cornerback Chris Cook, who visited the team today, will sign a one-year deal, according to a league source. Cook, 27, was a disappointment in Minnesota both on and off the field, and he ended his four-year stay there without an interception.

However, at 6-2 and 212 pounds, he has the height, athleticism and the long arms general manager Trent Baalke has been searching for in a press cornerback. The terms of the deal are not known, but there was not a high demand for Cook and the deal is likely to be team-friendly and similar to the ones signed by troubled cornerbacks Perrish Cox and Eric Wright in recent seasons.

The 49ers also hosted Seahawks free-agent cornerback Walter Thurmond today. Cook's signing is likely to have little impact on the team's pursuit of other free agents.

As of now, the presumed cornerback starters for the 49ers are Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver, who is coming back from an ACL tear. Cook, Wright, Darryl Morris and Dax Swanson are the others currently on the roster. The team's starters for the last three seasons, Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers, are free agents.

-- Matt Barrows

March 14, 2014
Emmanuel Sanders next WR to visit 49ers


If you still don't think wide receiver and cornerback top the list of 49ers' offseason needs, consider the parade of free agents heading through team headquarters this week. The latest is another wideout, Emmanuel Sanders, who had 67 catches, 740 yards and six touchdowns in 10 starts for the Steelers last season. He's already visited the Jaguars and Buccaneers and was in Kansas City today.

Of the group of receivers linked to San Francisco - it includes Julian Edelman and Hakeem Nicks - Sanders has the best deep speed, something the team could use against defenses that stack the line of scrimmage against their running game. Sanders ran his 40 in 4.41 seconds in 2010.

Still, as with the other free-agent wideouts, it's hard to see how the 49ers would fit Sanders into an offense that will start Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin in 2014. While three- and four-receiver sets are all the rage in the NFL, the 49ers have gone retro with their alignments, preferring instead two-tight end sets or a fullback. Three wide receivers? Including playoff games, the 49ers used that formation 21.8 percent of the time in 2011, 18.8 percent of the time in 2012 and 22.8 percent of the time last season, according to stats from Pro Football Focus.

The league average for three-receivers sets is 54 percent.

The 49ers like 2013 draft pick Quinton Patton and are expected to add at least one wideout in a May draft that is deep at the position. A good free-agent receiver could expect to be part of a rotation just as Randy Moss, Ted Ginn, Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams were during 2012. This led to frustration from Moss and Ginn following the season. Ginn notably had 556 yards and five touchdowns as Carolina's third receiver last season, and he signed a three-year deal with Arizona yesterday.

If the 49ers don't have a big role in mind for a free-agent receiver, it also raises the question of how much they will pay that receiver. As of today, the team is a little less than $4 million under the salary cap.

- Matt Barrows

March 14, 2014
49ers free-agent tracker: CBs, WRs top the list


Here's a run-down of where things stand for the 49ers in free agency.

Persons of interest

CB Chris Cook: UPDATE -- SIGNED with 49ers. The ex-Vikings cornerback flew to the Bay Area Thursday and is visiting today. A second-round pick in 2010, Cook has been a disappointment on and off the field for Minnesota. However, he has the size and athleticism GM Trent Baalke is seeking in a cornerback, and his past transgressions may make him more affordable than other options. The 49ers also have perhaps the best defensive backs coach in the league in Ed Donatell.

CB Walter Thurmond: UPDATE -- SIGNED with the Giants. The ex-Seahawk can play both outside and the nickel position, a real asset considering that Carlos Rogers is unlikely to be back. Thurmond is from California. But he also wants to return to Seattle and is hoping the Seahawks increase their offer. He already has visited Jacksonville, where ex-Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is the head coach, and he has other suitors, including the Redskins.

WR Julian Edelman: UPDATE -- SIGNED with the Patriots. He's a Bay Area native the 49ers have had their eye on since he was preparing for the draft in 2009. He's become Tom Brady's top target and the Patriots want to re-sign him. However, their offer to date has been unsatisfactory. Can the 49ers give him more? And can they promise him a big role in an offense that has Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin and which uses three wide receivers only 20 percent of the time?

WR Emmanuel Sanders: UPDATE -- multiple reports say he will SIGN with Denver. He had plans to be in town Saturday. He has the kind of deep speed to stretch defenses, which the 49ers sorely lacked at wide receiver last year. Still, you have to wonder why the Steelers -- who use that type of receiver as well as any team in the league -- haven't made a bigger effort to retain him.

March 13, 2014
49ers to host Edelman; reportedly interested in Nicks


The 49ers will get another crack at Julian Edelman.

The team worked out the Redwood City product at their facility before the 2009 draft. He ended up being drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round that year, converting from quarterback to receiver and becoming a very good pass catcher out of the slot for Tom Brady as well as New England's return man.

On Friday, he'll pay a free-agent visit to the 49ers, a league source confirmed Friday. The team also has interest in Giants free-agent receiver Hakeem Nicks, ESPN reported. The team showed interest in one-time Seattle receiver Golden Tate early in free agency.

Edelman, 27, is interesting because he's local - he began his college career at San Mateo College before moving to Kent State - and because he could fill a number of roles for San Francisco. He had a career-high 105 catches for 1,056 yards last year for New England. He also has handled 107 punts over the last five seasons and has averaged 12.3 yards a return with three touchdowns. The team's return man last year, LaMichael James, averaged 10.9 yards a return.

Given his original draft slot, Edelman has been underpaid so far in his career and is looking for a big contract. The 49ers certainly could create some room under their salary cap by restructuring contracts. However, there's not a lot of space right now after adding Antoine Bethea, Phil Dawson, Jonathan Martin, Blaine Gabbert and Eric Wright in recent days. Meanwhile, the Patriots are pressing to retain Edelman, who has become Brady's favorite target. The Browns also have shown interest, the source said.

Nicks, 26, is a five-year veteran who caught 56 passes for 896 yards last season. However, his production tailed off over the last two seasons as he battled foot and knee injuries, and he was a trade option last season.

-- Matt Barrows

March 13, 2014
Best frienemies? 49ers to host one-time rival Walter Thurmond


Earlier this week, one-time Seahawks receiver Golden Tate joked that the 49ers showed interest in him at the beginning of free agency but that he didn't want to offend Seattle fans by visiting the team's arch rivals.

Apparently Walter Thurmond has no such qualms.

The free-agent cornerback, who appeared in 12 games for the Seahawks last year, tweeted that he is off to San Francisco after visiting the Jaguars earlier today. Thurmond, 26, will join another free-agent cornerback, Chris Cook, who also is visiting the 49ers today. The 5-11, 190-pound Thurmond can play the nickel position, a spot Carlos Rogers filled for the last three seasons. The 49ers released Rogers Tuesday, and he is a free agent.

As expected, Thurmond's announcement launched a hue and cry from the fans of his former team. "It's never personal its business, just how the Hawks let red and everyone else walk," Thurmond wrote on Twitter. "Obviously there is a reason I haven't signed back yet. People need to chill, I haven't made a decision. It's a visit. You know like college recruiting,same thing smh."

Thurmond started three games last year, including the team's Week 2 win over the 49ers. He knocked away two passes in that game and finished with six batted away passes on the season. He served a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

During the 2013 offseason, coach Jim Harbaugh made note of the Seahawks' string of performance-enhancing-drug violations, chiding his rivals that a team should be "above reproach." Of course, the 49ers signed cornerback Eric Wright, who was suspended in 2012 for a PED violation, shortly after those comments. Wright also has been signed for this season, one of five cornerbacks currently on San Francisco's roster.

-- Matt Barrows

March 12, 2014
Cornerback Chris Cook to visit 49ers Thursday


The 49ers will host free-agent cornerback Chris Cook, who has the tall, long-limbed profile they covet at the position, on Thursday, a league source said tonight. The 6-2 Cook was a second-round pick by the Vikings in 2010. And while he doesn't have elite stats -- no interceptions in four seasons -- he does have the long arms (32 1/2 inches) general manager Trent Baalke likes and he figures to fit under the 49ers' quickly contracting salary cap.

The 49ers are light at cornerback after cutting three-year starter Carlos Rogers on Tuesday. Another starter, Tarell Brown, is testing the free-agent market. It's not known which teams have shown interest in Brown, but he indicated on Monday that he had suitors on the east coast.

The 49ers also have asked about Dolphins free-agent cornerback Nolan Carroll. He visited the Bills today, but Buffalo ended up signing another player at the position, Corey Graham. UPDATE, 7:00 a.m.: Today Carroll signed a two-year, $5.2 million deal with the Eagles, according to Fox Sports.

The 49ers have five cornerbacks under contract: Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver, Eric Wright, Darryl Morris and Dax Swanson.

-- Matt Barrows

March 12, 2014
Clean hitter: Antoine Bethea adjusted to new rules


Antoine Bethea came clean today during a radio interview with KNBR. After he was signed Tuesday, a number of reporters noted that he played 99 percent of the Colts' defensive snaps last season but finished without a single penalty.

Well, that's not exactly true, Bethea said. The new 49ers safety said he was penalized once - during his team's divisional playoff loss to the Patriots. (A check of the official game book, however, shows no such penalty and he's not listed as having any penalties on the NFL's official stat site.)

Whether it's one penalty or no penalties, it's still a remarkable achievement in a league that has become very sensitive about big hits on pass catchers and ball carriers. The man Bethea is replacing, Donte Whitner, struggled to adjust to the new rules throughout the 2013 season. He had six personal-foul type penalties (including four unnecessary roughness calls) in the regular season and one more in the championship game against the Seahawks.

Bethea agreed that adjusting to those rules isn't easy.

"It's most definitely tough - don't get me wrong," he said. "I most definitely understand the argument that DBs have with the rules. But at the end of the day, they are the new rules and we all understand why they install the rules. But you've got to go go with the flow, and if they change it you've got to do your best to change as well."

Bethea's penalty count
2013: 0
2012: 2, 25 yards
2011: 3, 24 yards
2010: 1, 15 yards
2009: 1, 15 yards
2008: 2, 10 yards
2007: 3, 34 yards
2006: 1, 2 yards

Bethea said he had dinner Tuesday night with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. He also said that winning a Super Bowl, which he did with the Colts his rookie year, was a big reason he signed with the 49ers. "Of course, sitting here, I wish I had two Super Bowl rings instead of one," he said. "It's one reason I'm here in San Fran. A great opportunity to get another ring. That's what I'm here to do."

-- Matt Barrows

March 12, 2014
Wednesday morning QB: Analyzing 49ers' busy start to free agency


Here are some thoughts on Tuesday's additions to the 49ers' roster. All of the transactions - free-agent signings, trades - are contingent on the players passing physicals. There is no reason to believe that any of the players below have any conditions that may scuttle a deal.

Safety Antoine Bethea. The 49ers wanted to retain Donte Whitner but felt that $7 million a year outstripped his value. So they acquired a Whitner-like player at a slightly lower price, between $5 and $6 million a year. As was the case last year when Eric Reid replaced Dashon Goldson, the new safety starter's skills and physical profile are eerily similar to the old starter's. The bottom line is that the 49ers needed a smart and steady veteran at safety as a counterbalance the youth at other positions in the secondary. That's what they had in Whitner but also what they get in Bethea.

Quarterback Blaine Gabbert. You have to assume that Jim Harbaugh, who once attended Gabbert's pro day alongside GM Trent Baalke, had input on this trade. And if Harbaugh had input, you have to assume that he believes he can work his magic with Gabbert. Sure, everything from Gabbert's arm strength to his leadership to his moxy has been questioned since he was drafted 10th overall in 2010. But he has size and physical gifts. And given Harbaugh's track record with quarterbacks, including some (See: Smith, Alexander D.) who had been all but heaped on the trash pile, you have to give Harbaugh and the 49ers the benefit of the doubt at this point. Remember, they did not use a 10th overall pick on Gabbert. They used the 200th pick (or thereabouts) to get him.

Tackle Jonathan Martin. This is another example of parlaying a late-round pick - a conditional 7th rounder in 2015 - on a promising reclamation project. Martin has played both right and left tackle for the Dolphins, which makes him a good candidate to take over the "swing tackle" role for the 49ers. It also will be interesting if they give Martin a look at guard. Mike Iupati is entering the final year of his contract and his price tag promises to be steep if he hits the open market in a year in which the salary cap is north of $140 million. The 49ers must have options. Joe Looney is one. Martin could be another. It must be noted that Martin didn't play well for the Dolphins. Like Gabbert, however, he's someone who showed potential as a college athlete and you can only assume he's motivated to prove his doubters wrong. Harbaugh loves that kind of player. Martin's addition is not-so-great news for a couple of 2013 rookies, Carter Bykowski and Luke Marquardt, who were looking to stick on the roster as swing tackles.

March 12, 2014
Tall order: 49ers interested in Vikings FA cornerback Chris Cook


It's official. For the second straight year, the 49ers are in the market for tall, long-armed cornerbacks.

They've shown interest in 6-1 Dolphins free-agent Nolan Carroll, who is visiting the Bills today, as well as Vikings free agent Chris Cook. Cook, 27, stands 6-2 and weighs 212 pounds. He was a second-round pick by the Vikings in 2010, and he's started 21 games over the last two seasons. He does not have an interception in the four years he's been in the league. Last year, the team initially was in the running for then-free agent Sean Smith and ultimately signed Nnamdi Asomugha. Both are tall for their position.

Cook had a trouble-filled stint with the Vikings. In 2012 he was acquitted of charges that he assaulted his girlfriend the year prior. He was arrested after that incident and suspended 10 games by the Vikings. Earlier in 2011, he was accused of pulling a gun on a neighbor, but was ultimately found not guilty in the incident. Cook also was ejected from a game Dec. 1 after pushing an official.

On Tuesday, the 49ers cut one of their starters, Carlos Rogers, and watched another, Tarell Brown, hit free agency. The team signed Eric Wright to a one-year deal. Wright, Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver currently are their top players at the position with 2013 undrafted rookies Darryl Morris and Dax Swanson supplying depth.

The 49ers have shown interest in re-signing Brown. They also are expected to use one of their top picks in the May draft on a cornerback.

-- Matt Barrows

March 11, 2014
49ers sign cornerback Eric Wright; Dixon visiting Titans


The 49ers bulked up their secondary a little more today by signing cornerback Eric Wright, whom they acquired last season after he was released by the Buccaneers. Wright is a favorite of general manager Trent Baalke, who believes Wright can play both on the outside and at nickel cornerback. The 49ers will need a nickel corner if, as expected, they lose Carlos Rogers in free agency. Wright signed a one-year deal.

Another veteran cornerback, Tarell Brown, also is a free agent, as is Perrish Cox. When Rogers was hurt early in the playoffs, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio tapped Cox, not Wright, to play the nickel position. Wright, however, currently is the only cornerback on the roster with any meaningful snaps at the critical nickel position.

Wright, a San Francisco native, had several run-ins at Tampa Bay, which prompted his release. Here's a story I wrote about him during the season.

Meanwhile, running back Anthony Dixon, tweeted that he will visit the Titans and his former coach at Mississippi State, Sylvester Croom. Croom is now Tennessee's running backs coach. The Titans, of course, signed Dixon's former 49ers teammate, Delanie Walker, last year.

-- Matt Barrows

March 11, 2014
If Whitner goes? 49ers looking at replacements, including Mitchell


The 49ers remain in the running to retain Donte Whitner, their starting strong safety for the last three seasons, but they are looking at alternatives in case they lose him. One of the players they have called about, according to a league source, is ex-Raiders safety Mike Mitchell, who spent last season with the Panthers.

Behind Carolina's formidable defensive front, Mitchell, 26, had a career high four interceptions to go along with eight pass breakups. Mitchell played free safety while Quintin Mikell played strong safety for the Panthers. But at 6 feet, 210 pounds, Mitchell is big enough to help in run support and finished with more tackles -- 66 - than Mikell last season. He also played strong safety with the Raiders and would make a good interchangeable tandem with like-sized Eric Reid in the 49ers' secondary.

The Browns, Jets and Bears have shown interest in Whitner, 28. There were more reports this morning that Cleveland, Whitner's home town, would make a strong push to add him to its secondary. The 49ers continue to hold out hope that they will retain Whitner.

-- Matt Barrows

March 10, 2014
49ers to release Rogers with post-June 1 designation

That the 49ers did not release cornerback Carlos Rogers today means they have the option of making him a so-called "post-June 1" transaction, which would create more savings on this year's salary cap. To do that, the team must release Rogers, who is due to count a team-high $8.1 million against the salary cap, after 1 p.m. Tuesday, the start of the new league year.

Doing so would mean a salary-cap savings of $6.6 million in 2014, according to calculations by CSN Bay Area. That would put the 49ers about $16.5 million under the salary cap and give them more room to try to sign free agents, including safety Donte Whitner, as well as their 2013 draft class. The post-June 1 designation, however, would mean that Rogers would count $1.5 million against the 2015 salary cap. Next year's salary cap is expected to be in excess of $140 million, up from this year's $133 million figure.

Releasing him at 1 p.m. also allows Rogers, one of the veteran leaders of the defense the last three years, the benefit of the full free agency period.

-- Matt Barrows

March 10, 2014
Report: 49ers to release cornerback Carlos Rogers


The 49ers plan to release cornerback Carlos Rogers, according to a report by ESPN, raising the chances they could lose in free agency both players who have started the last three seasons at cornerback. Rogers' release is not a surprise. He is due to make $6.3 million in base salary alone and to count a team-high $8 million against the salary cap. The 49ers asked him to reduce his salary last year or risk being cut. He called their bluff and ended up making $5.5 million in base salary.

Rogers started at left cornerback the last three seasons and also moved to the increasingly critical nickel cornerback position in passing situations. Perrish Cox filled the nickel cornerback role when Rogers was injured during the team's most recent playoff run. Cox is a restricted free agent who will not be tendered. The 49ers also could lose right cornerback Tarell Brown, who becomes a free agent at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

The only sure-thing at cornerback for the 49ers in 2014 is Tramaine Brock, who signed a four-year deal during the season. Chris Culliver is returning from an ACL tear suffered in training camp. The only other cornerbacks currently on the roster are Darryl Morris and Dax Swanson. Morris was an undrafted rookie in 2013 who spent his rookie season on the team's special teams coverage units. Swanson spent part of the 2013 season on San Francisco's practice squad. The team is looking at pending free-agent cornerbacks, including Miami's Nolan Carroll.

Rogers, 32, started all 16 regular-season games for the three seasons he was with the 49ers and tied with a team-high six interceptions in 2011. Along with safety Donte Whitner, he was the veteran leader of the secondary and helped mentor Culliver and Brock among others. His release will create more than $5 million under the team's salary cap.

-- Matt Barrows

March 8, 2014
Brown to see green? CB market rising before free agency even begins


"What a difference a year makes! Free agency will be a lot better this year."

That gleeful tweet occurred midday Saturday and was courtesy of agent Drew Rosenhaus. A couple of hours later, we found out why Rosenhaus was so happy. One of his clients, cornerback Sam Shields, signed a contract with the Packers worth $39 million over four years. The contract, worth $9.75 million a year, came on the heels of the one cornerback Ben Grimes signed with the Dolphins that pays him $8 million a year.

Last year, the cornerback market was flat. Those that did sign deals made between $5 and $6 million a year. During the season, Tramaine Brock signed a four-year deal with the 49ers worth as much as $16 million.

The expanding salary cap and the suddenly robust market for cornerbacks means that 49ers free agent Tarell Brown could be more expensive to re-sign than the 49ers were hoping. It also may make Carlos Rogers more reluctant to accept a reduction -- or at least a big reduction -- to the $6.6 million salary he is due to earn in 2014.

The 49ers asked him to reduce his salary last year or risk being cut. Rogers refused. He told The Bee in February that he expected the team to approach him again this year with a similar message.

Rogers noted that he plays both left cornerback and nickel cornerback. "The last three years, I played the most snaps on this whole team, period," he said. "Why would I take less? That was our approach last year. This year? It may be something different. I know the average for a cornerback -- the average -- is still high."

It's bound to be even higher this year. Free agency begins Tuesday.

-- Matt Barrows

March 7, 2014
49ers to try to retain defensive end Demarcus Dobbs


The 49ers are expected to place an original-round tender on restricted free agent Demarcus Dobbs, according to a league source. If he signs that deal, Dobbs would be on a one-year contract worth about $1.4 million.

The 49ers would be able to match any offers Dobbs, 26, gets starting on Tuesday. But because he went undrafted, there would be no compensation if he signs elsewhere. Dobbs is part of the team's fruitful 2011 class of rookies. He played 302 snaps on defense (28.4 percent) last year as Justin Smith's primary backup. He also has had a three-year role on special teams.

If Dobbs returns, the 49ers will have seven eight prospective defensive linemen under contract for the upcoming season -- him, Smith, Ray McDonald, Glenn Dorsey, Ian Williams, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial. In addition, Lawrence Okoye also will be given a chance to prove his ability this offseason. That's a lot of linemen on team that removes its nose tackle in passing situations. That's a big reason why selecting a player at that position early in the draft or spending money on a free-agent defensive lineman seems unlikely.

The 49ers are not expected to tender restricted free agents Perrish Cox, a cornerback. Linebacker Michael Wilhoite, an exclusive rights free agent, will compete for what could be a starting job at inside linebacker as NaVorro Bowman recovers from a knee injury.

-- Matt Barrows

March 7, 2014
Live chat replay: 49ers head to free agency

Revisit the chat led by The Bee's Matt Barrows as he answered questions and discussed the 49ers as the team heads into free agency.

Click here to follow the live blog from all mobile devices.

March 6, 2014
49ers, Tarell Brown still talking as free-agency period looms


The 49ers are not resigned to losing cornerback Tarell Brown in free agency and have had "ongoing conversations" about a new deal with Brown, according to a source familiar with the discussions. The 49ers already signed one of their pending free agents, Anquan Boldin, for the upcoming season. Brown, safety Donte Whitner and kicker Phil Dawson are three others the team would like to lock up. But with free agency only five days away, all three likely will test their worth on the open market.

Last year was a rough one for Brown, 29. He unknowingly forfeited a $2 million workout bonus by training in his native Texas instead of Santa Clara. He also suffered a rib injury Nov. 17 that caused him to miss three games and allowed Tramaine Brock to take over as the starter. Brown, however, started all three of the 49ers' playoff games.

The forfeited bonus did not sour Brown on a possible return to San Francisco. The 49ers, meanwhile, have all sorts of question marks at the position, ranging from Chris Culliver's ACL injury (He is expected to make a full recovery) to Carlos Rogers' team-high salary cap figure (The 49ers are expected to ask him to reduce his salary).

Brown has started for the last three seasons, and having him for 2014 would bring some veteran stability to an otherwise young secondary. He also is a possible replacement for Rogers at nickel cornerback if Rogers does not return in 2014. Former general manager Bill Polian lists Brown as one of the three top three free agents-to-be at his position in a ranking he helped create for ESPN.

Brock signed a four-year, $16 million deal during the season. Miami recently signed cornerback Ben Grimes, 30, to a four-year, $32 million contract. Like Brown, Grimes was set to become a free agent.

The 49ers also have been discussing a new contract for Whitner. The free-agency period begins Tuesday, but other teams can begin courting pending free agents on Saturday.

-- Matt Barrows

March 5, 2014
Best free-agent cornerback? Polian thinks 49ers' Brown tops the list


The 49ers' top free agent? It's not Donte Whitner or Phil Dawson, according to one list. ESPN's team of analysts, which includes former Colts general manager Bill Polian, believes cornerback Tarell Brown is the most valuable 49er likely to hit free agency next week.

Brown received a B grade from the panel, the highest for a cornerback. That's a bit of a departure from other free-agency rankings that typically place the Colts' Vontae Davis as the best at his position. He gets a B- from ESPN. Raiders free agent cornerback Tracy Porter and Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib also got Bs. Brown also is the highest-rated 49er. Whitner gets a B- grade while another cornerback, Eric Wright, gets a C.

"I think the grade speaks for itself," Polian said on a conference call this morning. "We think he's a good player. The question is ... system fit. Does he fit for what a club is looking for? Is he the kind of player that can step in and play well in your system? That's the issue. One size does not fit all. And that will determine - system fit will determine -- the market. And people are getting better at that."

March 3, 2014
Lesson from 2013: 49ers offense needs two high-quality wideouts


The lesson from the 49ers' 2013 season: Colin Kaepernick and the team's offense function a lot better when he has two, high-quality wide receivers to target.

Kaepernick promises to have that dynamic for the upcoming campaign after the team on Monday agreed to a two-year deal with Anquan Boldin, who was scheduled to hit the free-agent market next week.

Boldin, 33, led the 49ers with 1,179 receiving yards last season - the team's best mark since Terrell Owens in 2002 and Boldin's highest total since 2006 - and the 49ers' coaches voted him the team's MVP. General manager Trent Baalke called Boldin the "consummate professional" in October and echoed those words on Monday.

"He is a consummate professional whose love and respect for the game provide a tremendous example for all players," Baalke said in a statement. "Anquan has been a very productive player throughout his career, and we look forward to his future contributions to our team and community."

Boldin will earn $6 million a season, precisely the salary the Baltimore Ravens determined they could not afford last year when they traded him to San Francisco for a sixth-round pick. The transaction proved crucial for the 49ers after Michael Crabtree went down with a torn Achilles' tendon in May. The injury forced Crabtree, the team's top receiver in 2012, to miss two-thirds of the season.

Boldin, however, had a near-instantaneous rapport with Kaepernick. The two looked as if they had been decade-long teammates during May practices in Santa Clara, and that chemistry was evident in their Week 1 game against the Packers as well.Boldin caught 13 passes for 208 yards, the second highest total of his 11-year career. The 49ers leaned on him heavily during the first half of the season, and he ended up catching all but one of the touchdown passes Kaepernick threw to a wideout in 2013. Crabtree caught the other.

March 3, 2014
49ers, Anquan Boldin agree on two-year deal


A week ago, 49ers officials said that re-signing receiver Anquan Boldin was a priority. Today they made good on that effort, agreeing to terms with their leading receiver from 2013 on a two-year deal that pays Boldin $6 million a season.

There had been strong hints that a deal was imminent, but Boldin broke the news himself on Twitter: "49er fans, I wanted to be the first to tell you that I'm returning to San Francisco," he wrote. "Looking forward to joining my teammates, coaching staff and fans to bring back another championship to the Bay Area. Let's go after our Quest For Six."

Boldin led the 49ers with 1,179 receiving yards during the regular season and caught seven touchdowns. He and tight end Vernon Davis caught all but one of Colin Kaepernick's touchdown passes in 2013. Michael Crabtree caught the only other one. Boldin will turn 34 later this year, which is why the 49ers did not lock him up for a long-term deal. However, his yardage total was his best since 2006 when he was with the Cardinals, and the physical wideout did not miss any time due to injury.

The 49ers also wanted Boldin back because of what he can impart to the team's younger wideouts. They drafted one of those young wideouts, Quinton Patton, in the fourth round last year. They are expected to take at least one more in May's draft, which is considered one of the deepest in recent memory when it comes to wide receivers.

Boldin had a near-instantaneous rapport with Kaepernick last offseason. That became critical when Crabtree tore his Achilles' tendon in May, an injury that would keep him out of the lineup until December. While Kaepernick did not find a rapport with the team's remaining wideouts, that was not the case with Boldin. According to Pro Football Focus, the Kaepernick threw 123 passes towards Boldin last season. Their other wideouts only saw 95 targets combined.

The Ravens traded Boldin to San Francisco for a sixth-round pick a year ago because they were unwilling to pay him the $6 million he was scheduled to earn. His new deal pays him exactly that and includes $8.5 million guaranteed.

-- Matt Barrows

February 27, 2014
Future at center? 49ers sign Daniel Kilgore through 2017


With veteran Jonathan Goodwin a pending free agent, draft prognosticators had the 49ers looking for a center in the upcoming draft. It turns out the team's future center has been on the squad all along.

The 49ers today inked Daniel Kilgore, who had been Goodwin's backup the last two seasons, to a three-year deal that locks him up through the 2017 season. Kilgore was a fifth-round pick in general manager Trent Baalke's fruitful 2011 draft. "This move is another example of our philosophy to extend the contracts of our own young players," Baalke said in a statement.

The 26-year-old Kilgore mostly has been used, alongside Adam Snyder, as an extra lineman in the team's heavy-jumbo packages. He played 20 snaps last year at center. A native of Kingsport, Tenn, Kilgore played collegiately at Appalachian State, where he appeared in 48 games (29 starts) for the Mountaineers.

He was arrested in Kingsport last month for public intoxication after he and a friend were stopped while walking outside a bar. There is no mention of unruly or dangerous behavior in the police report. Instead, the two men were arrested "for their safety and the welfare of the public."

Snyder and backup Joe Looney also are options at center this year if Goodwin is not re-signed.

-- Matt Barrows

February 24, 2014
49ers reduce Dahl's salary; more optimistic about retaining Whitner


The 49ers have reduced the 2014 salary of safety Craig Dahl, the primary backup behind starters Donte Whitner and Eric Reid in 2013. According the the NFLPA's database, Dahl's salary dropped from $1.35 million to $825,000, a savings of $525,000. The reduction was first noted by the website, ninercaphell.com.

If Whitner, who becomes an unrestricted free agent March 11, moves on to another team, Dahl would becomes the de facto backup, at least until the draft. However, sources at the combine in Indianapolis said the 49ers are now more optimistic they can re-sign Whitner, one of the veteran leaders in the locker room, than they were before the combine when they figured they would lose the veteran to a team with more salary-cap space. Whitner still could test the free-agent market. But he wants to be back with the 49ers, and there promises to be more room under the salary cap than previously expected.

That Dahl reduced his salary is another indication the 49ers don't envision a big role for him in the upcoming season. The team signed him to a three-year, $5.25 million free-agent deal last year.

Another option is special teams ace C.J. Spillman. He is big and fast, one of the hardest hitters on the team and also is bright. He's been used as a safety in goal-line situations over the past few years but otherwise has not had a big role on defense. I've been told by multiple sources that Spillman's issue is that he's a "9-to-5 guy." That is, he doesn't put in the amount of work coaches want to see from a starter.

The 49ers reduced receiver Jon Baldwin's pay from $1.4 million to $645,000 last week.

-- Matt Barrows

February 20, 2014
Harbaugh: Anquan Boldin negotiations "going in a positive direction."


INDIANAPOLIS -- The 49ers coaching staff sent a strong signal they wanted receiver Anquan Boldin back in 2014 when they voted him the team's MVP. Today, Jim Harbaugh articulated that desire even more, saying that Boldin, who becomes a free agent next month, is their "No. 1" priority to re-sign.

"There's angst, and there's work to be done," Harbaugh said. "... The direction it's going is very positive because we're unanimous. It's not just me who wants Anquan Boldin back. We feel there's a process. It could be days, weeks, but there's a process, and it's going in a positive direction from the standpoint of the San Francisco 49ers. ... We're all in lockstep with how we feel about him."

Boldin, 33, led the 49ers in receptions and receiving yards last season and was virtually the only wide receiver Colin Kaepernick would target when Michael Crabtree was returning from an Achilles' injury in the first half of the season. The 49ers can negotiate exclusively with Boldin until March 8.

The team recently renegotiated the contract of another wideout, Jon Baldwin. Harbaugh said that Baldwin will get an opportunity to compete for a spot in 2014. "I talked about Jon before and how I feel about him, his competitive heart, his ability," Harbaugh said. "I'm very excited about Jonathan."

-- Matt Barrows

February 13, 2014
Look ahead: wide receiver should top 49ers' offseason priority list


Over the next few weeks, I'll take a position-by-position look at the 49ers roster with an eye on the upcoming season and beyond. Today we examine the situation at wide receiver.

Signed for 2014: Michael Crabtree, Quinton Patton, Jon Baldwin, Chuck Jacobs, Devon Wylie, Brandon Carswell, David Reed, DeMarco Sampson

Pending free agents: Anquan Boldin, Mario Manningham, Kassim Osgood.

Outlook: The 49ers' first order of business is re-signing Anquan Boldin, who led the team in receiving in 2013 and who was voted - by the coaching staff - as the team's MVP. Even if that occurs, however, the 49ers must start planning for the future at the position. To me, the question isn't whether they should draft a wide receiver early in the upcoming draft. It's whether they should take two receivers over the first two days.

Boldin isn't showing any signs of slowing down. Indeed, his 1,179 yards last year were his best mark since 2006 when he was with Kurt Warner and the Cardinals. But he'll turn 34 during the upcoming season. Crabtree, meanwhile, is going into the final year of his contract and has dealt with three serious foot/lower leg injuries since entering the league in 2009. That is, as potent as the Boldin-Crabtree duo was at the end of the season, you have to wonder how long it will be together.

The 49ers also are likely to extend quarterback Colin Kaepernick's contract this offseason and would be wise to protect that investment by surrounding him with good, young pass catchers. This year's draft is considered one of the best in recent memory and is particularly deep at the wide receiver position. Having a young receiver learn the position next to Boldin for two or three years also would be ideal.

Three of those receivers fit the team's mold for big, physical pass catchers who will fight defensive backs for the ball - Clemson's Sammy Watkins, Texas A&M's Mike Evans and Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin. If the 49ers wanted any of those three, however, they probably would trade up in the first round, perhaps farther than they did last year when they jumped from pick 31 to pick 18 to grab safety Eric Reid.

January 27, 2014
Look ahead: Transition year on the 49ers' defensive line


Over the next few weeks, I'll take a position-by-position look at the 49ers roster with an eye on the upcoming season and beyond. We'll start with the defensive line and work our way backward:

Under contract for 2014: Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Glenn Dorsey, Ian Williams, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Lawrence Okoye, Mike Purcell, Christian Tupou

Pending free agents: Demarcus Dobbs (restricted free agent).

Outlook: Smith will turn 35 during the upcoming season while McDonald will turn 30. The 49ers already began the rejuvenation process along the line by drafting Carradine and Dial, although both remain question marks after mostly sitting out their rookie years with injuries. The 49ers did, however, get excellent production from another young player, Jerod-Eddie, who went undrafted in 2012. He ended up playing 36 percent of the team's snaps while Dobbs played 28 percent. This allowed Smith and McDonald more rest than they had the previous two seasons. Smith, for example, played one and half fewer games in 2012 but had 40 more snaps that season than he did in 2013.

Dorsey, a free agent pickup in 2013, played very well in the second half of the season. Williams began the year at nose tackle but suffered a broken ankle in Week 2. He is expected to make a full recovery and to be ready for training camp. This means that there will be a lot of depth - Dial also can line up there -- at nose tackle, a position that was on the field only about 41 percent of the time in 2013. Given their reinforcements, the 49ers are likely to offer Dobbs the lowest tender possible for an unrestricted free agent. He was very good on special teams in 2013 but the team will be eager to work its draft picks into the defensive rotation.

December 28, 2013
49er free-agent watch: What lies ahead for Boldin, Whitner, Brown, et al.?


A year ago at this time, Dashon Goldson, Randy Moss, Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean-Francois and Ted Ginn, Jr. were gearing up for their last regular-season game in a 49ers uniform. All were pending unrestricted free agents at the time. Which notable names are in the same category as the 49ers head into their finale in Arizona? Here's the list along with the rationale for why they might - or might not - be back in 2014.

WR Anquan Boldin: He has been, by far, Colin Kaepernick's favorite target this year and his professionalism, his hunger and his aggressive playing style are perfect fits for the 49ers. The team is expected to draft at least one young receiver next season, and Boldin would appear to be an ideal mentor. However, he's 33 years old, has been resolute in his contract demands in the past and the 49ers have a host of younger plays to re-sign. Will he be back? This one is too close to call.

CB Tarell Brown: The 49ers and Brown's representatives have had all season to work on a contract extension. Instead, the extension went to fellow cornerback Tramaine Brock. Brown is an excellent tactician and has been very good at his job the last two and a half seasons. However, it seems as if the team is prepared to move on. Look for Brown to test his worth on the free-agent market in March.

K Phil Dawson. "Pay the man," Jim Harbaugh said of the team's record-breaking kicker. This type of support from the head coach has been the kiss of death for players in recent years (See: Morgan, Josh; Moss, Randy, et alia). But in this case, Dawson, 38, seems like someone who will return. He's struck a great chemistry with longsnapper Kevin McDermott and holder Andy Lee, and it's not as if the 49ers have a young kicker in the pipeline (though they probably should). The caveat, however, is that on a team with plenty of young players to sign long-term, the 49ers will look for savings anywhere they can. They may conclude that the wisest move is to sign another veteran kicker to a one-year deal.

July 12, 2013
49ers still have their eye on Austin Collie


The 49ers remain interested in former Colt Austin Collie, but they are unlikely to make a move on the free-agent wide receiver until after training camp begins, a source close to the situation said this week. One of the team's top priorities this summer will be to see if any of their young and inexperienced wideouts perform well enough to warrant significant snaps when the regular season begins. If none elevates his game, an inexpensive veteran like Collie would be of interest.

Collie, who played at Oak Ridge High outside of Sacramento, worked out for coaches and scouts on June 13. He has recovered from a torn pattela tendon that cost him most of the 2012 season in Indianapolis, and he has passed all the neurological tests associated with concussions. Collie has suffered three of them since entering the NFL in 2009. One of the 49ers team doctors, Daniel Garza, is a specialist at Stanford Hospital in concussions and head injuries.

Collie, who played at BYU, has been training in Utah this offseason. He also has had a workout with the Patriots.

Wide receiver, meanwhile, became the 49ers' biggest offseason question mark when Michael Crabtree suffered a complete tear of his right Achilles' heel on May 21. The team's leading receiver a year ago - and the first 49ers wideout to surpass 1,000 receiving yards since Terrell Owens in 2003 - Crabtree will miss at least the first three months of the season.

Veteran Anquan Boldin is entrenched at one starting spot. The 49ers are looking for someone at the other spot. The candidates include A.J. Jenkins, Ricardo Lockette, rookie Quinton Patton and Marlon Moore. Also, Kyle Williams promises to be back at practice after recovering from an ACL tear in late November.

The 49ers might add depth at wide receiver before training camp. They signed Brandon Carswell last month only to see him immediately go down with an ACL injury. The team has an open roster spot and will have more once Crabtree, rookie running back Marcus Lattimore (knee) and others are placed on the Physically Unable to Perform or non-football injury lists.

**UPDATE** As predicted, the team claimed receiver Charly Martin off of waivers Friday. The 6-1, 212-pound Martin has spent time with the Chargers, Panthers, Jaguars and, most recently, the Seahawks before entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2009.

-- Matt Barrows

June 4, 2013
Even more special teams help: 49ers sign WR Osgood, cut WR Hastings

The 49ers on Tuesday signed free agent receiver Kassim Osgood, yet another player with a reputation for his special teams play. Osgood, 33, is entering his 11th season. At 6-5, 220, he easily is the 49ers' biggest wide receiver.

To make room, the team released receiver Joe Hastings, who made the active roster midway through the 2011 season but was released prior to 2012.

He spent last year with the Lions and had no starts and no catches. However, he made the Pro Bowl in 2006, 2007 and 2009 as a special teams ace, and he adds to a growing list of 49ers acquisitions with special teams backgrounds.

The team already has signed Dan Skuta, Marlon Moore, and on Monday, Ray Ventrone to compete for spots on the coverage units. The 49ers also used a sixth-round pick on Nick Moody, an inside linebacker who stood out on special teams in college.

-- Matt Barrows

June 3, 2013
More special teams help: 49ers sign safety Ventrone


More evidence the 49ers weren't happy with their coverage units in 2012: The team today signed Ray Ventrone, a special teams standout most recently in Cleveland, to a one-year deal.

Ventrone got his NFL start with the Patriots in 2005 and played the last four seasons in Cleveland, two of them with current 49ers special teams coordinator Brad Seely. He appeared in 12 games last season and recorded seven special teams tackles. Ventrone also is familiar to newly hired 49ers consultant Eric Mangini, who has been a head coach with the Jets and Browns.

The 49ers ranked second to last in defending kickoff returns last year, and they allowed a Super Bowl-record 108-yard touchdown to open the second half against the Ravens in February. Two of the players the team relied on to bolster that unit, linebackers Tavares Gooden and Larry Grant, were not re-signed in free agency.

Meanwhile, the 49ers added two other coverage specialists, linebacker Dan Skuta and receiver Marlon Moore, in free agency. They used a sixth-round draft pick on Nick Moody, whose initial contribution, should he make the squad, likely would be on special teams.

In addition, linebacker Michael Wilhoite, who was activated on Nov. 30 last season and who turned out to be one of the team's better coverage players, returns this year. In just five games, Wilhoite had seven tackles, which ranked seventh on the team.

To make room for Ventrone, the 49ers waived fullback Jason Schepler.

-- Matt Barrows

May 6, 2013
Welcome back: 49ers sign OL Adam Snyder to a two-year deal


Adam Snyder is back with the 49ers after a one-year sojourn with the Cardinals, but the veteran will find the offensive line more crowded than when he left it. The former third-round draft pick signed a five-year, $17 million deal with the Cardinals last March but was released last week after just one year. The Cardinals used their top draft pick on a guard, Jonathan Cooper, and he is expected to start right away. Arizona gave up a league-high 58 sacks last season.

Snyder, who signed a two-year deal with San Francisco, can play any position on the offensive line, and that versatility is what makes him attractive to the 49ers. However, the five starting spots are set with tackles Joe Staley and Anthony Davis, guards Alex Boone and Mike Iupati and center Jonathan Goodwin. Two young players, Joe Looney and Daniel Kilgore, back up the interior positions on the line.

The 49ers are light at tackle, where Snyder has made 42 career starts. They used a seventh-round pick on Iowa State's Carter Bykowski and signed undrafted free agent Luke Marquardt. They also have Kenny Wiggins (Elk Grove High), who spent last season on the practice squad.

Snyder started 13 games for the 49ers in 2011. He played in 107 games (69 starts) for San Francisco over seven seasons. Along with good friends Joe Staley and Alex Smith, Snyder was instrumental in organizing and running the 49ers' player-led workouts during the lockout in 2011.

-- Matt Barrows

April 28, 2013
Nate Montana to get another tryout with 49ers


Nate Montana hasn't gotten a contract offer from the 49ers, but he has received an invitation.

Montana, the son of the 49ers' famous quarterback, will attend the team's rookie minicamp that runs May 10-12 on a tryout basis. Montana, who played most recently for West Virginia Wesleyan, attended the team's "local" pro day earlier this month. At the time, Montana said he figured he wouldn't be drafted this weekend but said he hoped to be offered a free-agent contract.

That's what he and his agent, Marty Magid, are concentrating on now, and their hope is that the 49ers offer him a deal after the minicamp. Magid said other, unnamed teams also have shown interest in Montana and that he was trying to secure an invitation for one of the rookie minicamps being held during the upcoming weekend, May 3-5. "A couple of teams have asked about him," Magid said. "We'll find out this week."

Montana, 6-4, 215, was one of 57 pro prospects on hand for the 49ers' local pro day April 17. He's had a roundabout college career that took him from Notre Dame to Pasadena City College to Montana and finally to Division II West Virginia Wesleyan, where he played last season.

While the 49ers took Joe Montana in the third round of the 1979 draft, Nate Montana -- he wore No. 13 at the recent pro day -- said he hoped to join an NFL team as an undrafted free agent and was eyeing the Canadian Football League or the Arena League if there are no NFL offers.

"Coming back here where my dad played, you've just got to put your head down and make your own name," he said April 17. "It's like a blessing and a curse. You just try to ignore the, 'Oh, that's Joe Montana's son. That's Joe Montana's son.' You just go work and show them that you're a different player from your dad."

The 49ers have three quarterbacks on their roster, Colin Kaepernick, Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien.They drafted another, B.J. Daniels, in the seventh round Sunday. Daniels will start out as a quarterback but may get practice repetitions at running back, receiver and punt returner as well.

-- Matt Barrows

April 25, 2013
Day 1 of draft offers glimpse of 49ers' future


The 49ers on Thursday offered an example of how they'll conduct business in coming years.

In March, they allowed a pricey veteran, safety Dashon Goldson, to sign elsewhere in free agency. In April, they replaced him in the draft.

San Francisco traded up 13 slots in the first round for LSU safety Eric Reid, who at 6-2, 210 pounds will be expected to take over Goldson's long-time role as the team's enforcer out of the secondary.

"We feel good about his ability to insert and play a physical brand of football," said general manager Trent Baalke. "Heady ball player. He triggers fast on the run, he reacts well to the pass. It's about learning the angles to the pro game and learning the speed of the pro game. But we feel very confident he's going to be able to do that and do it quickly."

A bonus for the 49ers - Reid, 21, already was very familiar to coach Jim Harbaugh, who recruited him heavily to play at Stanford. Harbaugh said he figured he'd have a hard time convincing Eric Reid, Sr., a three-time All-American hurdler at LSU, that his son should go to school in California. But he thought he had an in with the player's mother, Sharon, who stressed academics to her son and who exchanged a number of emails with Harbaugh four years ago.

The younger Reid, who was was born in Baton Rouge and who was rated the state's top defensive player in high school, said he "bled purple and gold" and ultimately chose his hometown university. Still, he noted that Stanford was the only team that recruited him as energetically as LSU.

"The story comes full circle that he ended up drafting me," said a jubilant Reid, via phone, from New York.

Said Harbaugh: "This time Eric had no choice in the matter, and it feels good to have him."

April 19, 2013
LB Larry Grant suspended first four games of season

Larry Grant, who showed he was a starting-caliber linebacker when he filled in well for injured Patrick Willis in 2011, has only received tepid interest as a free agent. On Friday, the league revealed why.

Grant has been suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances. Grant (Foothill High) has made free-agent visits to the Chiefs and Patriots but has not signed with any teams. Despite the suspension, Grant is able to take part in offseason practices and preseason games once he signs with a team.

Grant started three games at the end of 2011 and finished with 39 tackles and a forced fumble that preserved a win in Seattle. He mostly played special teams for the 49ers in 2012, recording a blocked punt in a blowout win over the Jets.

Grant's agent declined comment.

-- Matt Barrows

April 17, 2013
Baalke speaks: Says Justin Smith has no limitations, talks about Asomugha, others


General manager Trent Baalke today said that defensive lineman Justin Smith has "no restrictions, no limitations" following February surgery to repair his triceps tendon and that both Smith and Aldon Smith will "be fine" for the upcoming season.

Aldon Smith had surgery to repair a labrum tear in late February.

"They might be a little conservative with it at this stage, which you'd expect them to be," Baalke said of Justin Smith. "Aldon's coming along as well. He's probably not as far along (as Justin Smith), but he's certainly getting back."

Asked if Justin Smith has returned to the weight room, a smile came across Baalke's face. "Oh yeah," he said. "Oh yeah."

Baalke said that he and Nnamdi Asomugha had three meetings, including an Easter lunch, before the 49ers signed the veteran cornerback to a one-year deal. The purpose, Baalke said, was transparency.

April 4, 2013
Chip happens: 49ers reel in another motivated free agent


No, the situation isn't exactly the same and the personalties involved are entirely different. But the 49ers acquisition of Nnamdi Asomugha this weeks feels a lot like their signing of Randy Moss a year ago.

Both players are former stars in their 30s who had all sorts of questions swirling about them and who felt like they had something to prove. "I've had a chip on my shoulder every year that I've played," Asomugha said Wednesday. "It's obviously bigger this year because of the adversity I went through in Philadelphia, but it's always been a part of my game."

More to the point, the 49ers have become the team players like Moss and Asomugha want to join, and that gives the 49ers leverage. Moss last year signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal. Asomugha's is even more low risk. He'll make $1.35 million in base salary if he makes the team. If he doesn't, the 49ers won't owe him anything.

We can argue about Moss' impact last season. He caught 28 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns. What's beyond debate is that the 49ers ended up needing him. Injuries to Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams, as well as A.J. Jenkins' slow development, thrust Moss into the starting lineup late in the season and throughout the playoffs.

April 3, 2013
Colt McCoy on the run: Think Alex Smith, not Colin Kaepernick


Colt McCoy says he has experience running the read option out of the shotgun, and he has the numbers to back him up. In four years at the University of Texas, McCoy rushed for 1,589 yards and scored 20 rushing touchdowns, and he finished second to Sam Bradford in Heisman Trophy voting in 2008.

Still, it's hard to imagine that McCoy (6-1, 220) would get the same play calls as Colin Kaepernick if he ever entered a game in Kaepernick's place. McCoy, who ran a very respectable 4.73-second 40-yard dash at the combine in 2010, hasn't had nearly the same success rushing in the NFL, albeit in offenses that didn't emphasize a rushing quarterback. He's run 93 times, averaging 3.9 yards and scoring one rushing touchdown. He's also fumbled 12 times, losing two of them.

Instead, the play calls likely would be similar to what Alex Smith received over the last two seasons. Smith also was a very good rusher in college - 1,072 yards, 15 rushing touchdowns in just two seasons - who wasn't nearly as prolific in the NFL. He has 761 rushing yards, four touchdowns and a 3.6-yard average over his career.

Said McCoy when asked about running with the 49ers: "The read option and the pistol - they've obviously done a great job with that with Colin (Kaepernick) and his skills, being able to run and pass, a dual threat. We did a lot of that when I was in in college. I feel capable of doing that. But, again, I need to spend some time in the playbook and get familiar with it first of all before we ever get out on the field."

- Matt Barrows

April 2, 2013
Whitner: Asomugha a good fit in 49ers' defense


Appearing on NFL Total Access today, 49ers safety Donte Whitner estimated that the 49ers used man-to-man coverage 70 percent of the time last season. That's what makes Nnamdi Asomugha a "pretty good pickup" for San Francisco, Whitner said.

"In Philly, they played a lot of zone coverage," Whitner said. "When Nnamdi was in Oakland, they played a lot of press, man-to-man; let him get up there, use his long body, length and size to cover those wide receivers. If you look at our scheme, that's what we do. We play a lot of man - probably 70 percent man. He'll get up in a lot of wide receivers' faces and have an opportunity to use our pass rush, and let those guys work for him. I believe he'll come out and have a great year with us."

The question now is how Asomugha will be worked into the 49ers defense, which struggled during the playoffs but was one of the league's best in the regular season. The secondary finished tied for third in passing yards allowed per game and mostly snuffed out long pass plays by opponents. The 49ers gave up 19 passing touchdowns during the regular season. Only six teams allowed fewer.

"We have a young corner in Chris Culliver, veteran guys in Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers, and a great defensive coordinator in Vic Fangio," Whitner said. " If (Asomugha) comes in and really learns our defense, Vic will do everything that is possible to put all of those guys on the field to make plays at the same time."

April 2, 2013
49ers strike one-year deal with Nnamdi Asomugha

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The 49ers have struck a deal with veteran cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, a league source confirmed this afternoon. Asomugha, who played at Cal, who had his best NFL seasons while with the Raiders and who makes his offseason home in the Bay Area, will sign a no-risk, one-year deal with the 49ers.

He will have the most recognizable name of any of the 49ers' cornerbacks in 2013. However, his spot on the roster, and certainly the starting lineup, is not guaranteed. The contract is worth $1.35 million in base salary with no guaranteed money, meaning the 49ers could cut him with no future entanglements if they so desired. The deal is worth as much as $3 million if Asomugha meets specific incentives. The 49ers had a little more than $3 million in salary-cap space before Asomugha's signing. The team still has enough space to sign its draft class.

That modest salary is fine with Asomugha, who struck a five-year, $60 million deal with the Eagles two years ago and still is owed $4 million by Philadelphia this year. Money is not an issue for him.

Instead, Asomugha, 31, is eager to prove that he is not washed up and that his two painful seasons in Philadelphia were an aberration. According to those who know him, he wanted to join the 49ers to return to the Bay Area and because he felt the 49ers had an excellent shot at returning to the Super Bowl.

April 2, 2013
In Harbaugh he trusts: Asomugha has background with 49ers coach


If Nnamdi Asomugha joined the 49ers, the cornerback is confident Jim Harbaugh and his staff would utilize his strengths and put him in a position to succeed.

This, according to Asomugha's good friend, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, who was on the same Raiders team as Asomugha and then assistant coach Harbaugh a decade ago. Even though Harbaugh coached offense at the time, Gbaja-Biamila said he was accessible to all players and that he struck up a good relationship with him and Asomugha.

"I know one thing is true - he can connect to players," said Gbaja-Biamila, who now works for the NFL Network. "Not every player may like his style, but I think you respect the fact that he's a former player and he gets it. He's not one of those guys who will have one of those coaching egos, saying, 'This is my way.' Players fit like puzzles, and I think he would know how to use Nnamdi like a puzzle piece, just to be the perfect fit. ... I think Nnamdi was just out of place in Philly."

Now a free agent, Asomugha currently has two offers - from San Francisco and New Orleans. He has been mulling them for more than two weeks. His decision appears to be this: Return to the Bay Area on a 49ers team that has an excellent shot at a Super Bowl but that doesn't have an opening already carved out for him, Or) Play for ex-Raiders coach Rob Ryan in New Orleans.

March 30, 2013
14 for '14: SF must look a year ahead when it comes to draft haul


Kudos to Mike Sando - he works for some outfit called ESPN - for pointing out today something that's been in front of our noses all along but hasn't been fully articulated until now. The 49ers' 14 draft picks this year are valuable not just for filling current holes on the roster but for plugging future ones as well.

Sando notes that several big-name starters - such as Justin Smith and Donte Whitner - are under contract for just one more season. As Dashon Goldson's situation this month illustrates, the 49ers won't be able to hold onto everyone in coming years, especially with a potential mega deal for Colin Kaepernick on the horizon. That's why having 14 draft picks is such a boon to the 49ers right now and so crucial to sustaining success. It gives them the ability to plan for the future with relatively cheap labor.

Here are players scheduled to become free agents in 2014 along with some potential replacements in the draft. The 49ers also are likely to parlay some of the picks this year into even higher picks next year.

* WR Anquan Boldin. He said he'd be interested in extending his contract. If the 49ers are looking for another physical, big-bodied wide receiver in the draft, the best one is located up the road in Berkeley: Keenan Allen.

* CBs Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock. In my view, Brown, 28, has been the most consistently good cornerback on the team over the last two seasons. Brock, who currently is a restricted free agent, always has been a favorite of GM Trent Baalke. The team has been looking at cornerbacks both in free agency, Nnamdi Asomugha, and the draft, David Amerson, Tyrann Mathieu, B.W. Webb among others. That is, it's a safe bet the 49ers will add at least one more cornerback to the mix by April 27.

March 28, 2013
QB Pat White visiting the 49ers today


The phone call that former West Virginia quarterback Pat White placed to Jim Harbaugh earlier this month hit the mark.

White flew into the Bay Area last night and was on the field throwing the ball with the 49ers coach this afternoon, a source confirmed. White is the only quarterback known to have visited the 49ers, who likely will add two to their offseason roster. The hope, at least from White's camp, is that the he signs with the 49ers before he departs.

White threw for 6,049 yards and had 56 touchdowns for the Mountaineers while rushing for 4,480 yards and 47 touchdowns, and in that way has at least some of the characteristics of the 49ers' starter, Colin Kaepernick.

White placed a call to Harbaugh after West Virginia's pro day earlier this month. White performed for scouts both at the West Virginia and Virginia Tech pro days.

"I pay attention to how his players react to Coach Harbaugh," White told USA Today over the weekend. "They all want to win for him. And he seems to treat them how they want to be treated. I'm excited to get to know him on that level -- if I do get that opportunity. I'm very optimistic about making it back to the NFL."

White, 27, was the 44th overall pick by the Dolphins in 2009 and has been out of football since the Dolphins released him at the end of training camp in 2010. The 6-0, 190-pound White attempted five passes his rookie season ion 2009. None of them were complete, he was sacked once and and he fumbled once. He also rushed 21 times for 81 yards.

White has been working with San Diego-based quarterback coach George Whitfield in an effort to spark an NFL comeback.

The 49ers, meanwhile, have just two quarterbacks on the roster at the moment - Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien. Josh Johnson, who spent the 2012 offseason in Santa Clara, signed with the Bengals last week.

-- Matt Barrows

March 27, 2013
Phantom phone call: 49ers QB pursuit remains a mystery


Yes, Jim Harbaugh and Pat White spoke on the phone earlier this month. But the 49ers' interest in the former West Virginia quarterback may not be quite as strong as previously supposed.

According to a source with knowledge of the conversation, it was White who, at the prompting of his agent, placed the call to Harbaugh, not the other way around. White hasn't thrown an NFL pass since he was released by the Dolphins at the close of the 2010 preseason. He's taken part in recent pro days at West Virginia and Virginia Tech in an effort to spark new interest.

White told USA Today that he hoped to work out in front of Harbaugh and the 49ers coaches.

The Dolphins drafted White in the second round in 2009 when Bill Parcells ran Miami's personnel department. Parcells has since said he regretted the pick. "He just wasn't a prototypical quarterback pick," Parcells told the Miami Herald in 2011. "He was a great college player, and we let that color our judgment."

Parcells, meanwhile, gave 49ers GM Trent Baalke his first NFL scouting job with the Jets, and Parcells has remained a mentor for Baalke.

The 49ers likely will add two more to the roster for training camp. So far, however, there's been little buzz as far as free-agent quarterbacks and none are known to have made visits to Santa Clara. The 49ers reportedly were one of the teams initially interested in Matt Hasselbeck when he was released by Tennessee last week. Hasselbeck, of course, quickly was snapped up by the Colts to be Andrew Luck's backup. Another veteran quarterback, Carson Palmer, may become available if the Raiders part ways with Palmer due to his hefty salary.

The team never showed any interest in Josh Johnson, who spent the 2012 offseason with the 49ers. Johnson last week signed with the Bengals.

-- Matt Barrows

March 25, 2013
Report: Harbaugh, 49ers interested in QB Pat White


A quarterback who can gobble up yards on the ground as well as through the air? Before Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick made headlines, Pat White was well-known for his versatility at West Virginia.

Now it appears as if White, who threw for 6,049 yards and had 56 touchdowns for the Mountaineers while rushing for 4,480 yards and 47 touchdowns, will at least get a tryout to be one of Kaepernick's backups. White told USA Today on Sunday that he's spoken to Jim Harbaugh by phone and that the 49ers coach is interested in flying him out to Santa Clara for a workout. No date has been set.

"I pay attention to how his players react to Coach Harbaugh," White told the newspaper. "They all want to win for him. And he seems to treat them how they want to be treated. I'm excited to get to know him on that level -- if I do get that opportunity. I'm very optimistic about making it back to the NFL.

White, 27, was the 44th overall pick by the Dolphins in 2009 and has been out of football since the Dolphins released him at the end of training camp in 2010. The 6-0, 190-pound White attempted five passes his rookie season ion 2009. None of them were complete, he was sacked once and and he fumbled once. He also rushed 21 times for 81 yards.

White has been working with San Diego-based quarterback coach George Whitfield in an effort to spark an NFL comeback.

The 49ers, meanwhile, have just two quarterbacks on the roster at the moment - Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien. Josh Johnson, who spent the 2012 offseason in Santa Clara, signed with the Bengals last week. Asked about possible additions to the quarterback depth chart earlier this month, Harbaugh declined to talk about specific names.

-- Matt Barrows

March 22, 2013
Source: 49ers looking at Bears free-agent Idonije


The 49ers are not finished shopping for a defensive lineman.

A league source confirmed the team is battling the Chicago Bears for free agent defensive lineman Israel Idonije. The 32-year-old lineman started 11 games last season as a defensive end in Chicago's 4-3 defense, finishing with 48 tackles and a solid 7 ½ sacks. NFL.com was first to report the 49ers' interest. Idonije had a half sack in a 32-7 loss to San Francisco this past season.

San Francisco presumably is looking at the 6-6, 275-pounder to play defensive end in its 3-4 scheme. It's a position the 49ers have been examining during the offseason having already looked at Cullen Jenkins and Desmond Bryant, who ended up signing with the Giants and Browns respectively.

The team's interest in linemen could signal more platooning along the defensive front than occurred in 2011 and 2012 when the starters - when healthy - played virtually every snap. The 49ers' pass rush waned late in the season and into the playoffs.

Through Week 14, the 49ers had 35 sacks, an average of 2.5 per game. After that, they averaged 1.4 sacks per game. Week 14, of course, is when defensive end Justin Smith tore his triceps tendon. He didn't have any sacks in the playoffs and neither did linemate Aldon Smith, who apparently was dealing with a labrum injury at the time.

-- Matt Barrows

March 20, 2013
Woodson feels "shunned" in free agency

For the second time in his career, Charles Woodson isn't feeling the free-agency love. In fact, the Packers free-agent safety today said he felt "shunned."

"I thought there would be a little more interest," Woodson, 36, said on the NFL Network. "I think that, looking back, this is my second time in free agency and I've kind a been shunned both times. I guess this time around I'm a little more patient with it, and just waiting around to see what happens."

Woodson's only reported free-agent visit took place on Thursday with the 49ers. The visitation circuit in general has been quiet in recent days since nearly every head coach and general manager has been in Phoenix for the annual owners meeting. That meeting ended today.

The 49ers are still keeping their options open as far as Woodson, but he is not a pressing need for them after the team signed safety Craig Dahl to a three-year deal. Dahl said he expected to compete for Dashon Goldson's former spot at free safety. Woodson has said he wants to play for a playoff contender.

There's one thing, however, that has Woodson elated. The infamous 'Tuck Rule' was eliminated today. "Hallelujah," he said.

***UPDATE*** Another veteran safety, Ed Reed, has agreed to a deal with the Texans, CBS Sports was the first to report.

-- Matt Barrows

March 19, 2013
New kicker Dawson eager for a rainy day at Candlestick


Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night ...

General manager Trent Baalke today cited Phil Dawson's bad-weather prowess as one of the reasons why the 49ers thought so highly of the 14-year kicker and why the team signed him to a one-year deal. Indeed, Dawson spent his career kicking on the shores of Lake Erie and in other nearby cities - Pittsburgh, for instance - where the weather turns nasty starting in the late fall.

He hasn't, however, had a lot of practice inside Candlestick Park. Dawson, in fact, is 1-2 in two appearances in San Francisco in 2011 and 2003. One of the questions he asked team officials during his recent visit was weather the stadium was accessible in the offseason. The answer is yes, and Dawson said he'd monitor the weather reports as soon as he brings his family to the Bay Area.

"And when it's supposed to be bad days, you can find me in there," he said. "Because I want to get in there and I want to start hitting balls and I want to see what's going on and get a game plan. That's part of my job. I don't necessarily have an opponent across the line of scrimmage I have to study and be prepared for but I do need to know the conditions I'm going to face."

March 19, 2013
49ers sign Sacramento native Marlon Moore


The 49ers today signed Sacramento native Marlon Moore as they continue to rebuild a special teams that lapsed last season. Moore, who was a Dolphins free agent, signed a one-year deal.

The speedy Moore, 25, plays wide receiver, but he said he expected his initial impact would come on San Francisco's coverage units. He mostly served as a gunner on special teams in Miami, and he could pair with standout C.J. Spillman in that role.

Moore also started two games at receiver last season for the Dolphins, finishing the year with six catches - he averaged an impressive 19.3 yards a reception - and a touchdown. He also ran back two kickoffs for 51 yards.

The 6-foot, 190-pound wideout went from Natomas High to Fresno State where he handled 19 punts. He returned one of them 63 yards for a touchdown in 2008. He finished his career as a Bulldog with 90 catches for 1,374 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The 49ers are not expected to retain return man Ted Ginn, who has made free-agent visits to Cincinnati and Carolina. Moore said he's mostly been used on coverage units with the Dolphins but that he has experience as a returner and would jump at the possibility to do that with the 49ers.

"I'm coming in here with an open mind, and I'm ready to work for whatever need they want me to fill," he said on a conference call.

March 19, 2013
49ers find their kicker: Phil Dawson


The 49ers today agreed to a deal with veteran kicker Phil Dawson, who tied for second in field-goal accuracy this past season and was named to his first Pro Bowl. Dawson, 38, broke the news himself on his Twitter account: "I am humbled & thrilled to have the opportunity to continue my career with my new team, the SF 49ers!" He had spent his first 14 seasons with the Browns.

Earlier this month, the 49ers parted ways with David Akers, 38, after Akers went through the roughest season of his career. He made only 69 percent of his field goals and blew potential game winners in two overtime games against the Rams. Akers, who struggled with a sports hernia during the second half of the season, was particularly bad from beyond 40 yards, hitting only 9-19 from that distance.

Dawson, meanwhile, was 13-13 from 40 yards and beyond (including 7-7 beyond 50 yards). Overall, he was good on 93.5 percent of his attempts for the Browns, which tied for second place among full-time NFL kickers. Dawson missed just two field goals last year -- a 28-yard attempt against the Raiders that was blocked and a 39-yard try that went wide right in Week 17 in Pittsburgh where it was 18 degrees wind chill with 12 mph winds.

Dawson is familiar to special teams coach Brad Seely, who coached him for two seasons (2009-10) in Cleveland. Dawson is right footed while Akers is a lefty. That will require holder Andy Lee to switch sides, something the athletic Lee has not had a problem doing over his career.

The length of the Dawson's deal is not yet known.

-- Matt Barrows

March 18, 2013
QB Watch: Josh Johnson waiting for a call; what about Thigpen?


****UPDATE**** The Titans today announced the release of veteran Matt Hasselbeck. The 49ers tried to sign the 14-year veteran in 2011. ESPN reported that the 49ers are one of several teams that have shown initial interest in Hasselbeck, 37. The others are: Arizona, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New Orleans, the Giants and Tampa.

****UPDATE II***** Hasselbeck is reportedly close to a deal with the Colts.

Who will join Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien on the 49ers' quarterback depth chart in 2013? So far, the answer is unknown. The quarterback market has been mostly quiet during free agency, and it's likely to remain so early in the week while owners, coaches and general managers are at the annual league meeting in Phoenix. (One free-agent QBs, Ryan Fitzpatrick, also is in Phoenix; he's reportedly met with the Titans and Bengals).

A year ago, the 49ers signed former Jim Harbaugh protege Josh Johnson, and he spent the offseason in Santa Clara. I spoke to Johnson today, who said he hadn't personally heard from the 49ers. He's visited the Bengals and said "a couple more teams" had expressed interest though he had no visits scheduled as of now. Last year he visited the 49ers and the Redskins. He was picked up by the Browns in late December.

Johnson, who also played for the UFL's Sacramento Mountain Lions last year, said he wouldn't rule out the 49ers despite the fact they chose Tolzien over him at the end of the exhibition season. "It just depends on the situation," he said. "I'm just trying to find the best fit."

Another name that has been linked to the 49ers is Tyler Thigpen. The Coastal Carolina quarterback has been working out alongside Kaepernick and a few other 49ers - including wideout A.J. Jenkins - at CES Performance in Atlanta since mid February. Thigpen has two criteria that Harbaugh holds most dear in a quarterback - he's ultra competitive and he has good athleticism.

March 17, 2013
What the heck is Trent Baalke doing?!?! Exactly what he did two years ago, that's what


-- Bye Nnamdi! Sorry you couldn't play for food stamps! Our origination is so cheap it's unbelievable!!

-- He's not signing here,49ers too cheap..Craig Dahl terrible sign if a starter, white guys don't do well as DB's this isn't 1950

-- I am assuming both Baalke & Pope Harbaugh are aware that free agency period started already! Craig Dahl???

Jeeze-Louise, Trent Baalke sure has been taking it on the chin the last few days, as the preceding comments -- just a smattering from that destroyer of the English language, Twitter -- indicate. In fact, the last time this many 49ers fans thought their general manager was an idiot was 2011. You remember, right?

It was quite similar to the current free-agency period. A few days in, the 49ers had lost several of their own players, including center David Baas. While other teams were reeling in prized free agents left and right, showing them off at press conferences and getting all sorts of kudos on ESPN, the 49ers' only signing was a kicker, David Akers.

Most infuriating to fans, the 49ers had shown some interest in the biggest, most seductive catch of all, can't-miss cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, but backed off the hunt. The Eagles ended up signing him to a massive, five-year deal.

"What are the 49ers doing?!" the fans railed while pulling out their hair, shaking their fists at the heavens, threatening to jump from bridges. "Every other team is getting better! Our team is getting worse!" (Except it was punctuated poorly and every other word was misspelled).

March 16, 2013
Saint elsewhere: New Orleans, Rob Ryan to host Nnamdi Asomugha


Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, whose first free-agent visit was with the 49ers, also will drop by the New Orleans Saints. Asomugha is on his way to New Orleans tonight and will meet with team officials Sunday, according to a league source. Asomugha was at his best when he was with the Raiders under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Ryan is now the defensive coordinator for the Saints.

Asomugha, 31, met with the 49ers Thursday and had a physical that night. The next day, one of his former teammates with the Raiders (and one of his best friends), Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, tweeted that the cornerback and the team were in "serious discussions." Gbaja-Biamila, who now works for the NFL Network, hinted at a Bay Area reunion for both Asomugha and former Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson, whom the 49ers have been considering to play safety.

On Sunday, Gbaja-Biamila tweeted that the 49ers' negoations with Woodson and Asomugha were in a "holding pattern." "Despite the crazy week," he wrotes, "not EVERY deal is done in 1 day."

The 49ers Saturday signed another safety, Craig Dahl. His three-year, $5 million deal (with an $800,000 signing bonus) does not preclude the 49ers from signing Woodson, but it also means the 49ers are not desperate to add him.

Asomugha, meanwhile, has other suitors. The Cardinals, Texans and Broncos also have shown interest. Asomugha's New Orleans visit first was reported by CSN Bay Area.

-- Matt Barrows

March 16, 2013
49ers sign safety Craig Dahl to a three-year deal


One day after his visit to Santa Clara, Rams free-agent safety Craig Dahl inked a three-year, $5 million deal with the 49ers.

"It's not the enemy anymore," said Dahl, whose familiarity with the division was attractive to the 49ers. "... I was privileged to play in the NFC West, and I'm really familiar with what's going on here in San Francisco, and the direction they're heading. I couldn't be happier with the opportunity I've been given."

Dahl said he hoped to "mesh well in the secondary and fill the void" created when Dashon Goldson signed a five-year deal with the Buccaneers earlier this week. Dahl also plays the same punt-coverage position that Goldson handled for the 49ers the last two seasons.

After meeting with Charles Woodson and flirting with Ed Reed -- both of them likely hall of famers -- the team went with a far more anonymous safety. Dahl, 27, started all 16 games last season in St. Louis, finishing with 78 tackles, two pass break ups and an interception. He's started 40 games in the last four years in St. Louis.

March 15, 2013
Report: Rams free-agent safety Dahl to visit 49ers


One safety exits, another enters.

The 49ers will host Rams free-agent safety Craig Dahl, according to Howard Balzer of the Sports Xchange. Dahl, 27, started all 16 games last season in St. Louis, finishing with 78 tackles, two pass break ups and an interception. The 6-1, 212 pounder played at North Dakota State, which is where 49ers general manager Trent Baalke used to be an assistant coach. Dahl was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Giants ain 2007.

That news comes on the heels of Louis Delmas signing a two-year deal to return to the Lions. Delmas visited the Rams and the 49ers before returning to Detroit. The 49ers still are considering veteran safety Charles Woodson, who visited the team facility on Wednesday. They also are still in play for Ravens free-agent safety Ed Reed, who ended his visit with the Texans Friday without a deal.

As has been the case in recent years, the 49ers do not make free-agent decisions quickly and they usually let the market soften before signing a player. There are still many safeties available, and the 49ers will use that to their advantage.

-- Matt Barrows

March 15, 2013
Former teammate hints of Bay Area reunion for Woodson, Asomugha

A former Raiders teammate of Nnamdi Asomugha and Charles Woodson is hinting strongly of a Bay Area reunion.

Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, who played alongside Asomugha and Woodson in Oakland from 2003-04 and who now works for the NFL Network, tweeted early Friday that the 49ers are in "serious discussion" with both players. Woodson met with Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers on Wednesday; Asomugha arrived Thursday afternoon.

San Francisco is looking at Woodson, 36, as a 2013 replacement for free safety Dashon Goldson, who signed a five-year deal with Tampa Bay earlier this week. Harbaugh on Thursday said the two sides had a good meeting - Harbaugh and Woodson, both University of Michigan products, have hosted a charity golf outing together - and that the team was "still evaluating" the veteran defensive back.

March 14, 2013
The new Costanzo? 49ers ink deal with special teamer Skuta


A 49ers team that finished second to last in the NFL in kickoff coverage last season signed a new, would-be special teams ace, Dan Skuta, today to a two-year deal. Skuta, a 250-pound inside linebacker, led the Bengals in special teams tackles in two of the last three seasons.

The 49ers had one of the best coverage units in the league in 2011, one that was led by energetic and charismatic Blake Costanzo. The 49ers, however, allowed Costanzo to sign with the Bears in free agency a year ago, and their 2012 special teams units weren't the same.

They surrendered an average of 26.9 yards per kickoff - only the Raiders were worse - in the regular season. That number doesn't include the postseason, which was marked by a Super Bowl record 108-yard touchdown return by Ravens returner Jacoby Jones to open the second half.

Some of the team's struggles can be attributed to kicker David Akers' relative flat kickoffs, which gave returners extra time to build up speed. Akers dealt with a sports hernia during the second half of the season and had a procedure last month. Two special teams players, inside linebackers Larry Grant and Tavares Gooden, also are free agents.

Skuta was one of three free agents the 49ers hosted Thursday. The group included ex Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who left the team facility without a deal but who could sign one Friday. The former Cal star hit the open market this week after being cut by the Eagles. Asomugha was the biggest catch in the 2011 free-agent period, and Philadelphia landed him that year with a five-year, $60 million deal. That contract, however, became far too unwieldy, especially after Asomugha, 31, failed to play to expectations.

March 14, 2013
49ers to host CB Nnamdi Asomugha


Looking for a tall cornerback to help with the big-bodied receivers who gave them fits in the playoffs, the 49ers will host ex-Raider and Eagle Nnamdi Asomugha today, a league source said. The long-limbed, 6-2 Asomugha was perhaps the league's best cornerback when he played press coverage for the Raiders, but he struggled in the Eagles' more diverse scheme and was released earlier this week.

The 49ers showed interest in Asomugha, 31, when he was a free agent two years ago. However, he never visited 49ers headquarters like he will do today. This is believed to be his first visit, which always is an indication of strong mutual interest between team and free agent.

San Francisco also promises to be a better fit for Asomugha. The 49ers play sides when it comes to their cornerbacks -- one either plays on the left or right side and doesn't switch during the game. They also like to play press coverage, although there is plenty of the zone schemes that seemed to vex Asomugha in Philadelphia as well.

The Saints, Texans, Broncos and Cardinals also are eyeing Asomugha, who played at Cal, CBS Sports reported Wednesday.

The 49ers also had shown interest in 6-3 Miami free-agent cornerback Sean Smith, but that has cooled since the start of free agency on Tuesday.

The 49ers are looking at another former Raider, safety Charles Woodson. He visited the team facility Wednesday, but no deal has been struck. Another safety, Louis Delmas, is due to visit the team facility today, ESPN Adam Schefter first reported Wednesday.

-- Matt Barrows

March 13, 2013
First impression: Glenn Dorsey loves the energy level in Santa Clara


The 49ers didn't roll out the red carpet for Glenn Dorsey. They sent defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to pick him up at the airport.

And that was plenty.

"He's got a lot of energy, man," said Dorsey, a free-agent defensive lineman who signed a two-year deal with the 49ers Wednesday that's worth as much as $7 million. "He picked me up from the airport last night and he was talking 100 miles per hour. And I was ready, man. He took me to the facility last night and we talked about a lot of stuff. And he knows a lot. I'm excited to get the opportunity to work with him."

Dorsey, 27, is expected to step in at nose tackle after the 49ers lost their starter from the last two seasons, Isaac Sopoaga, to the Eagles on Tuesday. Another 49ers free-agent lineman, Ricky Jean Francois, wrapped up his own visit with the Eagles Wednesday and will meet with the Colts today, his agent said.

Dorsey (6-1, 297) was the fifth overall draft pick in 2008, and his five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs did not produce many accolades. He has only four sacks over that span, and he missed most of the 2012 season with a calf injury. Still, he didn't see himself as a disappointment, and he sounded eager to join a winning club like the 49ers.

March 13, 2013
49ers land Glenn Dorsey; Goldson strikes gold with Tampa Bay


After watching several of their free-agents sign big-money deals elsewhere, the 49ers on Wednesday reeled in one themselves - former Chiefs defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey. Dorsey, 27, is expected to mostly play nose tackle for the 49ers after the team lost last year's starter, Isaac Sopoaga, to the Eagles in free agency. Another 49ers lineman, Ricky Jean Francois, also has drawn interest from the Eagles and will visit the Colts on Thursday.

Dorsey has played defensive end in the Chiefs' 3-4 scheme but he said he'd have no problem moving to nose tackle with the 49ers. "I'm ok with everything," he said in a conference call. "Whatever coaches want me to do, honestly. I knew coming here that I can play anywhere. Wherever they see fit. I'll try my best at that position."

Dorsey signed a two-year deal with the 49ers. "We are very pleased to add Glenn to our team," general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. "Glenn brings great versatility to our defensive front, and we look forward to his contributions on the field and in the community."

Dorsey flew into the Bay Area last night and met with defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and others today. Like both Jean Francois and Sopoaga, Dorsey can play multiple position in a 3-4 front. He was a defensive end last season for the Chiefs before a calf injury knocked him out for the season.

Meanwhile, the 49ers lost free-agent safety Dashon Goldson to the Buccaneers. Goldson long had been seeking a deal similar to the $8 million-a-year contract the Chargers gave Eric Weddle two years ago. He surpassed that mark with Tampa Bay, getting a five-year deal worth as much as $41.25 million (avg. of $8.25 million), including $22 million guaranteed. The 49ers will play the Buccaneers in the upcoming season.

A possible replacement for Goldson is ex-Raider and ex-Packer Charles Woodson, who is currently visiting the team. Another free-agent safety, LaRon Landry, will visit on Thursday if he can't reach a deal with the team he is currently visiting, Indianapolis. Landry has other suitors while Woodson is looking at five other teams, all of them would-be playoff contenders, his agent said Tuesday.

-- Matt Barrows

March 13, 2013
49ers FA update: Dorsey in the building; Landry next?


Safety LaRon Landry will visit the 49ers on Thursday if the team he's visiting today, the Colts, doesn't sign him to a deal, a league source said. Landry, 28, is a younger alternative than the safety with whom the 49ers are meeting today, Charles Woodson, 36, but he'd likely be more expensive, too.

Landry also has other suitors, which are believed to be the Cardinals and the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay's first choice at safety is 49ers' free agent Dashon Goldson, and the two sides reportedly are negotiating a deal. ****UPDATE**** The Buccaneers and Goldson have agreed to terms on a five-year deal.

Meanwhile, Chiefs free-agent defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey is currently meeting with 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and others in Santa Clara. The 49ers lost starting nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga to the Eagles and are in danger of seeing another nose tackle, Ricky Jean Francois, go as well. Dorsey was miscast as a defensive end in a 3-4 system with the Chiefs. It's unknown how he feels about playing nose tackle in the 49ers' defense.

And as far as Miami free-agent cornerback Sean Smith ... The 49ers showed interest in the big (6-3, 218-pound) cornerback in the run-up to free agency, but they are not believed to be one of the teams hotly pursuing Smith now. Astute 49ers followers might recall that this is how the team approached the cornerback market in 2011: They expressed interest in several top names, waited until the market had cooled and then snagged Carlos Rogers.

-- Matt Barrows

March 12, 2013
Report: Charles Woodson wants to become a 49er


Likely to lose starting safety Dashon Goldson, the 49ers are bringing in possible replacements, including longtime Raiders and Packers defensive back Charles Woodson, who will visit Wednesday, his agent said. The 15-year veteran will turn 37 in October, and he missed half the 2012 season with a broken collarbone.

However, he played well in the games in which he appeared. He had five tackles, 1 ½ sacks and a forced fumble in a Week 1 loss to the 49ers. Overall in his career -- he mostly played cornerback -- Woodson has 55 interceptions, 11 of which he returned for touchdowns. He was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.

The 49ers also have shown interest in Jets free agent LaRon Landry, who is similar in size and aggressiveness to Goldson. The Buccaneers reportedly sent a private plane to California to pick up Goldson. It would be a surprise at this point if he returns to the 49ers, who have been reluctant to give him a long-term deal for the past three offseasons.

Woodson has a couple of significant connections on the 49ers. A University of Michigan product, he's hosted an annual golf tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich. with Jim Harbaugh. he's also close to 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers. A source close to Woodson on Tuesday said the defensive back is eyeing several would-be playoff teams and hopes the 49ers "step up" as far as a contract offer. He said Woodson wants to play with a contender in 2013.

Woodson played the first eight years of his career with the Raiders, who hold their training camp in Napa. He has a winery, 24 Wines, that's 2 1/2 miles south of Calistoga.

-- Matt Barrows

March 12, 2013
Safety shuffle: 49ers in the mix for hard-hitting LaRon Landry


The 49ers, who are at risk of losing free-agent safety Dashon Goldson this week, are one of four teams looking at Jets free agent safety LaRon Landry, a league source confirmed today. The team's interest in Landry, 28, was first reported by NFL.com's Ian Rappaport, who wrote that the Cardinals and Buccaneers also are in the mix for Landry. Tampa Bay also is interested in Goldson.

Landry (6-0, 220) is similar to Goldson in that he is aggressive and has a reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the league. The former first-round pick finished the 2012 season with 100 tackles and forced four fumbles. He had two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Landry was voted to his first Pro Bowl this past season.

The 49ers also have been linked to Baltimore's Ed Reed, who is 34 and nearing the end of his career. There has been no interest to this point in former Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson, who was released last week.

-- Matt Barrows

March 12, 2013
Dance card brimming: 49ers one of 10 teams looking at Raiders' Bryant


****Update**** In addition to Bryant, the 49ers also have shown interest in another FA defender, Washington LB Lorenzo Alexander.

The 49ers are one of the teams interested in Raiders defensive lineman Desmond Bryant, his agent confirmed today. Bryant (6-6, 311 pounds) played defensive tackle for the Raiders, but a better position for him may be defensive end in a 3-4 scheme like the 49ers run. The 49ers are one of 10 teams to have inquired about the 27-year-old lineman. (SF's advantage: He wouldn't have to move).

San Francisco obviously is interested in adding to its defensive front. The 49ers met with free agent Cullen Jenkins last week - he has since signed with the Giants - and also are one of several teams eying ex-Falcon John Abraham. The 49ers did not do much rotating among their front four defenders in 2011 and 2012, something that seemed to work against them late in the most recent season.

In addition, top backup Ricky Jean Francois appears to be on his way out. He has drawn interest from the Eagles, Colts, Titans and Saints among others and will make visits this week. Another lineman, Isaac Sopoaga, is a free agent as well and also could find a new home on a squad that uses a nose tackle more than the 49ers.

Bryant, meanwhile, started eight games for the Raiders last year and finished with four sacks, 26 tackles and a forced fumble. The Harvard product got into trouble last month in South Florida where he was arrested on charges of criminal mischief. Bryant allegedly was inebriated and went into a neighbor's house.

Teams can begin scheduling visits with free agents like Bryant when the league year begins at 1 p.m.

- Matt Barrows

March 11, 2013
Seahawks to land Harvin; 49ers eyeing big-bodied cornerback Smith

Their division rival Seahawks are poised to make a big move on offense by trading for wideout Percy Harvin. How will the 49ers react?

According to a league source, they are among the teams showing the most interest in Dolphins pending free agent cornerback Sean Smith, 25, who promises to be one of the most sought-after cornerbacks on the market. Smith, who is from Pasadena, was a second-round draft pick out of Utah in 2009.

At 6-3, 218 pounds, Smith won't be charged with covering the speedy Harvin. But he'd be a good matchup against Seattle's Sydney Rice, Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald and the big-bodied receivers the 49ers had trouble covering in the playoffs and Super Bowl. Smith also has fared well against tight ends, such as New Orleans' Jimmy Graham.

The 49ers are expected to have a good salary-cap cushion heading into free agency. It's not known how they would accommodate Smith in a secondary that already has Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver. The Eagles, Buccaneers, Chiefs and Raiders also are expected to make a push for Smith, but the 49ers are considered one of the favorites - if not the favorite - to land him. The free-agency period begins Tuesday at 1 p.m.

-- Matt Barrows

March 9, 2013
Report: 49ers looking at return man Cribbs


The 49ers, who need a punt returner and a wide receiver, are interested in a player who can do both, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports.

A league source told the paper that the 49ers are one of five teams that have inquired about Browns returner Josh Cribbs, who was second in the league with 457 yards on punt returns in 2012. One of the 49ers' punt returners from last season, Ted Ginn, is a free agent who is not expected back, while the other, Kyle Williams, is returning from an ACL tear.

Cribbs, 29, has good size at 6-1, 215 pounds and has proven durable over his career. He had a career-high 41 receptions in 2011 but had only seven for 63 yards last season as the Browns worked young wideouts into their offense. Presumably, he would welcome a bigger role on offense with the 49ers, who like multi-faceted players and who currently have question marks at the wide receiver spot opposite Michael Crabtree.

Cribbs also is familiar to 49ers special teams coach Brad Seely, who coached Cribbs for two seasons in Cleveland. (Seely might be a connection to another Browns free agent, kicker Phil Dawson).

Randy Moss, who finished the 2012 as the team's No. 2 wideout, Tweeted his farewell to the team last month. Another candidate, Mario Manningham, is coming off a late-season ACL tear. Last year's first-round pick, A.J. Jenkins, gained little experience as a rookie but is doing his part to establish a connection with quarterback Colin Kaepernick this offseason.

-- Matt Barrows

March 9, 2013
Jean Francois popular as free-agency window opens


Five teams have called to ask about Ricky Jean Francois, the 49ers' defensive lineman who is scheduled to become a free agent on Tuesday. Jean Francois' agent, Thomas Kleine, declined to say which teams have inquired, but he said they represent teams that run both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses.

He said the 49ers still are interested in re-signing the 26-year-old lineman and that they called at 1:30 a.m. (EDT) to gauge the competition for Jean Francois. The NFL this year is a allowing a 72-hour window in which teams can contact the agents of pending unrestricted free agents like Jean Francois. That window opened at midnight eastern today.

Jean Francois (6-3, 295) can begin visiting teams on Tuesday. He mostly played nose tackle at the beginning of the 2012 season but started two games at right defensive end in San Francisco's 3-4 scheme after Justin Smith suffered a torn triceps Dec. 16. He can play any defensive line position in a 3-4 scheme and presumably is being eyed as a defensive tackle by some 4-3 teams.

March 8, 2013
Report: 49ers eyeing sack master John Abraham


Former Falcons defensive end John Abraham is scheduled to visit the 49ers after a meeting with the Seahawks today, writes Mike Garafolo of USA Today. Abraham (6-4, 263) has been a 4-3 defensive end throughout his career but projects to outside linebacker - who moves to defensive end in passing situations - in the 49ers' 3-4 scheme.

The Falcons released Abraham, 34, last week in a cost-cutting move after a season in which he started 15 games and finished with 10 sacks. Abraham hasn't had any fewer than 9 ½ sacks in his last three seasons with Atlanta. Meanwhile, the 49ers are happy with their two starters at outside linebacker - Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks - but there is a sense that Smith, at least, wore down at the end of the season when he was dealing with a shoulder injury.

Smith finished with 19 ½ sacks and was named the team's MVP. Brooks finished with 6 ½ sacks and played well in the NFC Championship game - against Atlanta - and in the Super Bowl. He also intercepted a pass for a touchdown Nov. 25 against New Orleans.

The 49ers also have Parys Haralson, who is returning from a triceps tear, on the roster at outside linebacker, as well as 2012 rookies Darius Fleming and Cam Johnson. Veteran Clark Haggans is a pending free agent. He had surgery to repair a partially torn labrum after the season.

It's not known whether the Seahawks will push to sign Abraham before he leaves today. A four-time Pro Bowler, Abraham needs 6½ more sacks to become one of the NFL's Top 10 all-time sack leaders.

-- Matt 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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