2011 NFL Free Agency: 49ers Sign Braylon Edwards, Donte Whitner

The lockout is over and everybody can breathe a sigh of relief and rejoice. That is to say, every fan can do that, while teams scramble to pack an entire offseason into mere days. The San Francisco 49ers are going to be right in the fray, signing draft picks, undrafted free agents, bringing back their own free agents, installing new systems and so much more.

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2011 NFL Free Agency: Braylon Edwards Agrees With 49ers On One Year Deal

The Braylon Edwards free agency bonanza is over. Edwards signed with the San Francisco 49ers to a one year, $3.5 million deal according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Edwards should provide a nice safety bubble with the injury to Michael Crabtree, and should also complement Josh Morgan in the thin 49ers receiving corps and give them an offensive boost they've needed for years.

This caps off a crazy day which saw Taylor Mays being offered as trade bait, Donte Whitner getting picked up and Dashon Goldson likely on his way out. But Edwards is probably the biggest pickup in an offense that needs weapons. Alex Smith now has a weapon he desperately needs on offense, and the 49ers can hopefully stretch the field with more than just two capable receivers. Edwards averaged 17.1 yards per catch last year, and along with Crabtree should form a dynamic duo on the outside to complement Vernon Davis on the inside

For more on the Edwards signing, head to Niners Nation.

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2011 NFL Free Agency: Donte Whitner Joins 49ers, Dashon Goldson Departs

Looks like the Jim Harbaugh era could be as much of a circus as the Mike Singletary era was in San Francisco. The 49ers have agreed to terms with safety Donte Whitner according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. This is funny because Whitner had tweeted only hours ago that he was going to the Cincinnati Bengals.  The lesson as always is that sports contract stories aren't done until someone signs something.

Whitner notched a three year, $11.75 million deal with $4 million guaranteed, a bit more than he earned in his stint with the Buffalo Bills. Whitner is a solid tackler but far from a great cover defender, so San Francisco gets a cheap safety and someone who provides decent backline support entering the prime of his career.

It also means the end for Dashon Goldson in SF. He tweeted his goodbye to Niners fans.

Sorry guys thanx for all ur support but not gonna be back. See ya

 

For more on the wild wild world of 49ers free agency, head to Niners Nation.

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NFL Free Agents 2011: Jonathan Goodwin, 49ers Agree To Three-Year Deal

Oh the San Francisco 49ers needed a center. They so desperately needed a center, no matter how well Adam Snyder was doing filling in undressing the nose tackle leftovers that Aubrayo Franklin left behind.  So when Jonathan Goodwin turned up in San Francisco, it was imperative that they try and land him. They apparently succeeded in their mission.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reported that a league source said Goodwin decided to leave the New Orleans Saints in favor of new pastures in San Francisco. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports some of the details of the contract: 3 years, $10.9 million, $4 million guaranteed. Goodwin should provide a veteran presence to a developing offensive line, and should hopefully give Alex Smith a solid snapper to rely on during games.

Snyder has been playing center thus far in camp with no previous center experience. If Goodwin is taking over center, Adam Snyder will compete with Chilo Rachal at right guard.

For more on 49ers free agency, Niners Nation is where you should be.

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2011 NFL Free Agency: 49ers Lose Aubrayo Franklin, Who Signs With Saints

There was some news on Monday stating that free agent nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin had re-signed with the 49ers. It now appears that someone jumped the gun, because ESPN's Adam Schefter just tweeted that Franklin has reached a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints. The tweet suggests that the 49ers were close to re-signing him:

Filed to ESPN: New Orleans pulled off free-agent upset, reaching agreement with former 49ers DT Aubrayo Franklin on a one-year deal.    

Perhaps the 49ers did get serious about bringing Franklin back, and somebody within believed the deal to be close. It makes sense, Franklin hadn't received much attention on the free agent market up until this point, so the 49ers made an offer and the Saints swooped in and offered him more money.

Financial terms aren't yet available, but one has to figure that the 49ers kept the dollar amount low because of the deal given to Ray McDonald at the start of free agency. Because they acted quickly on that front, they had to get Franklin at a good price, which was the reason they brought him in on Sunday.

Isaac Sopoaga will be the starting nose tackle in 2011, or at least that's where he's slotted in right now. Ricky Jean Francois and undrafted rookie free agent signing Ian Williams will likely compete for the backup role.

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NFL Free Agents 2011: Manny Lawson Agrees To One Year Contract With Cincinnati Bengals

There aren't many great linebackers available in the 2011 NFL free agent class, so it figures that some of their signings come last. Free agent linebacker Manny Lawson is one of those leaving first. Lawson is departing the Bay Area, and is heading toward the Cincinnati Bengals on a one year deal worth $3 million, reports Pro Football Talk.

Lawson can play outside linebacker, which should make him useful for Cincinnati--with young players like Dan Skuta, Dontay Moch and Vincent Rey being considered at the Sam linebacker, Lawson should likely be inserted right in as the de facto starter next season. The one year deal seems to indicate this is only a test run.

The drafting of Aldon Smith also signalled the end of Lawson's long-term future with the Niners. Smith should come in and take Lawson's place, although it might take him time to replicate his pass-rush and run stopping abilities.

For  more on the Lawson signing, head to Cincy Jungle (Bengals) and Niners Nation (49ers).

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2011 NFL Free Agents: Plaxico Burress Visiting 49ers Saturday, Jets Sunday

According to the New York Post's Steve Serby, wide receiver Plaxico Burress will meet with the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. It appears that the 49ers are searching for help at wide receiver since Michael Crabtree will be sidelined for at least a month with a foot injury. The team reportedly had interest in Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, but he has since been dealt to New England Patriots.

Burress is 34-years-old and played nine seasons in the NFL before spending two years in jail for a gun charge. He was released in June and is currently looking for employment. Burress has already met with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is scheduled to meet with the New York Jets on Sunday.

The 49ers are considered a long shot to land Burress particularly considering his connections to Pittsburgh and New York. However, the fact that he even bothered to fly west has to count for something.

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2011 NFL Free Agents: Ray McDonald Re-Signs With 49ers At Five Years, $20 Million

It looks like the 49ers are expecting some changes on their defensive line, which was composed of Justin Smith, Aubrayo Franklin and Isaac Sopoaga in 2010. Ray McDonald is a free agent this year (thanks to the new rules that make four-year players as such) and was looking for an increased role in 2011, while Franklin is also a free agent and looking for an increased paycheck in 2011. We previously wrote that their destinies were intertwined in this piece, and that might just be the case, as Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee tweets that McDonald has agreed to a five-year contract:

According to a league source, the 49ers have agreed to terms on a five-year deal with defensive end Ray McDonald.    

Adam Schefter would go on to add that it's worth $20 million with $7 million of that in guaranteed money. That's a decent bit of change for McDonald, who might get his chance at an increased role in San Francisco if his destiny is indeed intertwined with that of Aubrayo Franklin. That is to say, depending on what happened with one likely determined the fate of the other, and Franklin might be on his way out.

This likely means that the 49ers have plans for McDonald in regards to the starting left defensive end position, occupied by Sopoaga in 2010. There's been talk that Sopoaga would move over to nose tackle in the event of Franklin departing, and that's looking a little more likely at this point. The starting line would then be Smith-Sopoaga-McDonald, which doesn't look like a bad shakeup.

It's not a certainty that Franklin is gone at this point, however. He was very good at what he did, we just have no idea how many teams are pursuing his services at this time. 

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2011 NFL Free Agency: 49ers Possibly Releasing Nate Clements, In The Nnamdi Asomugha Sweepstakes?

Update: It looks like Nate Clements has not yet been informed of his release, though it's still up in the air as to whether or not he will. Jason LaCanfora tweeted that the 49ers have yet to tell him anything in that vein, but that he could still be cut eventually. Maiocco has re-tweeted the link, which of course means absolutely nothing because he added no commentary. We'll keep you posted.

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It looks like the 49ers are going to look a lot different in 2011, at least on defense. With Takeo Spikes being the first starter to go, it now looks like starting cornerback Nate Clements is going to be released. Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area tweeted this:

Just received word from source that 49ers have informed Nate Clements they are releasing him.    

At face value, this makes Shawntae Spencer the team's number one corner, with guys like Tarell Brown and rookie Chris Culliver vying for the second spot. Of course, this is just how it looks right now, there is bound to be a lot of things going down between now and the start of the regular season.

Releasing Clements would clear up about $15 million in cap space, a nice chunk of change any day. If the 49ers truly are in on the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes, that's got to be an attractive number for the shutdown corner. Bringing Nate back at a lower cost doesn't appear to be the plan, as the team reportedly was going to try and restructure, but let's assume we'd have heard something other than "a source is saying that Clements is going to be told he's released," if there were plans to bring him back.

Is it Asomugha? is it Jonathan Joseph? Maybe it really is Shawntae Spencer? That might be disastrous. 

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