49ers Guard Position Up For Grabs With Alex Boone In The Mix

The San Francisco 49ers have had a great free agency period thus far, and are hoping to supplement that with another strong draft, led by general manager Trent Baalke. Follow along for all of the offseason news for the 49ers and check out the individual stream for the 49ers' draft and free agency. For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation.

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49ers To Try Out Alex Boone At Right Guard, But What About Anthony Davis Instead?

Well, the San Francisco 49ers certainly have an interesting situation with their offensive line going forward. The line currently consists of Joe Staley and Anthony Davis as the starting tackles, with Alex Boone as the swing man to backup, Jonathan Goodwin at center, Mike Iupati at left guard and, supposedly, 2011 draftee Daniel Kilgore penciled in as the starter at right guard.

In short, the 49ers have no backup interior linemen and only one backup tackle. Boone is pretty versatile as a tackle, so they're pretty set there, but they have, at best, a fringe starter at right guard and no backups on the interior right now. Many have said Kilgore could be the guy going forward, and that could turn out to be the case, as a late-round guy without a full offseason of work due to the lockout.

As it turns out, the 49ers may be in the market for a new backup tackle. Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reported yesterday that the team plans to let Boone compete for the starting right guard position. As it stands, Boone would be competing with Kilgore. He should be favored to beat him for the spot, provided he can make the transition.

Boone played well in relief last season, and many started to wonder if he should take over the right tackle position currently manned by Davis, given his propensity to be eaten alive by speed rushers. He should be able to beat Kilgore at this point, but who knows how he'll fit in the position? In the piece from Maiocco, there's a quote from LeCharles Bentley, a two-time Pro Bowl lineman, who suggests that Boone is a better tackle than a guard.

He goes on to say that the guards in the 49ers system are a dime a dozen, and Boone could be an exceptional tackle. This writer tends to agree with that, which bring up one question: why not kick Davis inside and make Boone the right tackle? It's obvious Boone has talent at the tackle position, and his biggest issues on the inside would be just how tall and lanky he is. He might just be too big to play the guard position.

Davis is a big fella himself, but it would make a lot more sense to have him next to Goodwin than Boone, who is actually pretty quick on his feet for someone his size. The only caveat to this is the fact that so much was invested in Davis -- but if it's better for the team, then it's better for the team. Draft status can't factor into what's happening on the field. Then again, Davis is still very young and could develop into a top-flight right tackle.

Still, the 49ers are going to try Boone out there - and it really does fit the "put your best five players on the line" mantra. It will be interesting to see where the 49ers go with the draft -- it's safe to assume they'll draft at least two offensive linemen --will there be some stiff competition in those draftees?


NFL Draft 2012: 49ers To Host Local Pro Day April 18th

The San Francisco 49ers will host a pro day for local area players next Wednesday, April 18th, per CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco. It will take place at the team's practice facility in Santa Clara, and will give some of the lesser known local draft prospects a chance to showcase their talents.

NFL teams are allowed 30 'official' non-local prospect visits prior to the Draft but there's no limit with how many 'local' players they host in the run up to the big day, and these local visits include players from area schools and players that grew up in the region. The 49ers certainly have a slight advantage here, with several schools in the area and are boosted by Southern California's rich tradition of churning out NFL-caliber football players.

Per Matt Maiocco, the following local players are expected to be in attendance, with asterisks representing players that were invited to the Combine.

Cal: P Bryan Anger*, WR Michael Calvin, S D.J. Campbell, S Sean Cattouse*, OL Justin Cheadle, LB Ryan Davis, WR Coleman Edmond, OL Justin Gates, DL Trevor Guyton*, LB D.J. Holt, WR Marvin Jones*, LB Mychal Kendricks*, DB Virdell Larkins, TE Anthony Miller, DL Ernest Owusu, T Mitchell Schwartz*, PK Giorgio Tavecchio.

Stanford: S Johnson Bademosi, G David DeCastro*, TE Coby Fleener*, WR Corey Gatewood, S Delano Howell*, QB Andrew Luck*, T Jonathan Martin*, DE Matt Masifilo, WR Chris Owusu*, RB Jeremy Stewart, S Michael Thomas and WR Griff Whalen.

San Jose State: WR Michael Avila, CB Brandon Driver, QB Matt Faulkner, LB Pompey Festejo, DB Alex Germany, S Duke Ihenacho*, OL Fred Koloto, DE Mohamed Marah, DT Andrew Moeaki, RB Lamon Muldrow, S Manu Ngatikaura, C Robbie Reed, RB Brandon Rutley, CB Peyton Thompson, OL Andres Vargas, LS Ben Zorn.

For more on the 49ers, make sure you head to NinersNation and join in on the discussion.

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NFL Free Agency 2012: Free Agent Safety Madieu Williams Signs With Redskins

The San Francisco 49ers just took a big blow to their defensive backfield as free agent safety Madieu Williams has signed with the Redskins, according to a tweet from CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco. Williams had visited with the Falcons as well as the Redskins before deciding to sign with the NFC East team.

This now leaves the 49ers barren at the backup safety spot which now will probably have to be filled through the NFL Draft that's right around the corner. The Niners have already lost Reggie Smith to the Carolina Panthers, leaving starters Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner to have to rely on C.J. Spillman and Colin Jones as their backups. Spillman is more of a special teams player, used sparingly in actual defensive packages and Jones had only one snap last season.

It's one of the few spots the Niners don't look settled in and it will have to be watched closely in the coming weeks.

For more on the 49ers offseason, visit Niners Nation.


NFL Free Agency 2012: Brandon Jacobs' Deal Includes 150K In Guaranteed Money

As with some of the other deals the San Francisco 49ers have made this offseason, like those for Randy Moss and Perrish Cox, Brandon Jacobs' deal comes with minimal risk, just like the Niners like it.

Jacobs, the former New York Giants running back who signed last week, will account for $1.575 million on the 49ers' salary cap, according to CSN Bay Area. The deal includes a $150,000 signing bonus and the rest of the money in the contract is not guaranteed.

Jacobs, a seven-year veteran, will add yet another short-yardage, power back to the Niners backfield to give Frank Gore some experienced backup. Jacobs, who is used to sharing the load in a backfield after playing with Ahmad Bradshaw in New York, has 56 rushing touchdowns in his career including seven in his last year with the Giants.

To keep track of other free agency signings and other news surrounding the 49ers, visit Niners Nation.


Madieu Williams Visiting With The Falcons, 49ers Don't Have Much In The Way Of Backup Safeties

It's going to be interesting to see how the safety position plays out for the San Francisco 49ers in 2012. Dashon Goldson had a decent year, with plenty of mistakes but reinforced with some big, big plays, while Donte Whitner exceeded expectations of every single 49ers fan and was like a shotgun shell on every single play. Whitner is under contract, while Goldson was given the franchise tag - but the real question mark is the backups.

That being the fact that the 49ers don't really have a backup right now. They've got four safeties on the roster, but both backups aren't really "backup" material. C.J. Spillman is used occasionally in goal line situations (and was fantastic there), but is limited outside of that one situation and is a core special teamer. Colin Jones only say one snap last season that wasn't special teams: on offense.

Reggie Smith has departed for the Carolina Panthers, leaving Madieu Williams the only real option for the 49ers, except for the fact that he's a free agent. Williams already visited with the Washington Redskins, and ESPN's Adam Schefter is now reporting that he visited with the Atlanta Falcons on Monday.

If Williams goes, it's going to create an interesting situation for the 49ers. They'll likely need to draft a replacement early on, but the draft isn't all-that strong in regards to the position. Williams didn't see much time in 2011, but the 49ers assumed he was going to be the starter before it was found that Goldson wasn't going to get an offer from the New England Patriots after all, and he was brought back on a one-year deal.

It might be in their best interest to re-sign him at this point, lest Goldson or Whitner go down an injury.


49ers Free Agency: Madieu Williams Receives Contract Offer From Washington Redskins, According To Report

According to a report from The National Football Post, the Washington Redskins have offered a contract to the San Francisco 49ers' free agent safety Madiew Williams. The 30 year old safety played his 8th season in the league for the 49ers in 2012 after two longer stints with the Vikings and the Bengals. Williams played in 15 games for the 49ers but did not see heavy rotation, and he registered only 9 tackles, significantly fewer than in previous years.

The terms of the Redskins offer to Wiliams are unknown at this time. The 49ers defensive backfield has already seen some action this offseason: the team parted ways with Reggie Smith, who signed with the Carolina Panthers, and they applied the franchise tag to Dashon Golson. With depth at safety a concern for the team, if Williams leaves for Washington the team would likely be looking for safety help in the upcoming draft.


NFL Free Agency 2012: 49ers Sign Wide Receiver Brett Swain

The San Francisco 49ers were not expected to sign any other wide receivers in the offseason with the recent acquisitions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, but the club has now signed receiver Brett Swain for the 2012 season. The news came on Friday evening from the agent of Swain:

The recently signed wide receiver is unlikely to see too much time on offense, meaning he'll likely serve as a special teams guy on kickoffs and punts. No word on any contract details, although I'm sure it's not much more than the league minimum. A solid move on paper, this should provide coach Harbaugh and the staff yet another option to catch passes from Alex Smith should a few injuries come up.

Swain appeared in just five games last season, catching two passes for 15 yards.

For more on Swain and the 49ers, head over to Niners Nation.


San Francisco 49ers Preseason Schedule 2012

The San Francisco 49ers announced their four-game preseason schedule, which includes a national television appearance against the Denver Broncos on For more chatter on the schedule, head over to Silver & Black Pride.


49ers Free Agency 2012: Center Jason Brown To Visit San Francisco, According To Report

All was quiet for the San Francisco 49ers for a little while there - after they signed Mario Manningham and made sure Alex Smith was under contract for the foreseeable future, the free agency period wound down. It did, however, wind down without any starting right guard in place, the only perceived opening in the 49ers starting lineup on both sides of the ball. Earlier today, we already took a look at whether or not they might draft a guard early, even if the numbers suggest they won't.

Now, it looks like the 49ers are still looking to address the position by bringing in an interesting player to work out. According to Adam Caplan, they're bringing in former St. Louis Rams center Jason Brown. It's unclear if the 49ers think Brown will be able to play right guard, but that seems the most likely scenario, as the team already has former Pro Bowler Jonathan Goodwin at center.

Brown was released by the Rams in March, when they could no longer stomach the huge salary they offered him after just a couple years in the league. He played with the Baltimore Ravens out of college, and played very well, earning one of the wealthiest contracts for a center at the time. But his play in St. Louis was far from expiring.

As noted by SB Nation's Rams blog, Turf Show Times:

Brown never really lived up to his status as a one of the top free agent linemen that season. He underperformed with the Rams, getting manhandled by bigger defensive tackles. Last season it finally proved to be too much for even Steve Spagnuolo, who benched Brown and replaced him in the lineup with Tony Wragge.

49ers fans will remember Wragge as the backup who wasn't good enough to remain a backup when the 49ers only had late-round rookies to compete with him. That obviously doesn't inspire a ton of confidence, but as it stands right now, Brown was great for one team and pretty poor for another.

He likely could have remained in St. Louis for a chance to redeem himself if not for his big contract. He might be the only guy left on the market with real starting potential, so the 49ers could be onto something, though there's not a ton of cap room left to pay him - not that he'll command a big contract again at this point in his career.


49ers Sitting With $5.3 Million In Salary Cap Space For Rookies

The San Francisco 49ers have had a fantastic offseason thus far, returning all defensive starters and adding some players who could have some pretty significant upside. Guys like Carlos Rogers and Ahmad Brooks were given deals for continuity, while guys like Perrish Cox and Randy Moss were given a chance off the street, with some upside (for the future for the former, and for 2012 in regards to the latter) to work with.

Then there's the signing of Mario Manningham and the new contract for Alex Smith - all moves to promote continuity and also to get better. San Francisco keeps being patient, and they keep getting great players for great prices, and it's looking like Trent Baalke is going to work out in the long term in the general manager role. Paraag Marathe also likely has a lot of job security, handling those contracts like it's nobody's business.

Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network recently posted on each team's salary cap situation, with up-to-the-day numbers in regards to what their total cap is and how much is remaining, among other things. His numbers for the 49ers are below:

San Francisco 49ers
Current contracts: 48
Previous year carryover: $16,500,000.00
Adjustments: $982,519.00
Adjusted cap: $138,082,519.00
Team cap: $132,780,988.00
Cap room: $5,301,531.00
Team cash: $111,944,916.00

The emphasis on cap room is mine - you'll notice it's significantly less than in recent years. That doesn't mean that the 49ers are suddenly paying their players yes. It means they've taken this opportunity to pay a lot of players - namely Patrick Willis, who has a cap hit of over $17 million for 2012.

Still, it's good to see that the 49ers have that much left over - the easily accounts for their draft picks, and still has room to grow on the chance that they get longer deals done for someone like Dashon Goldson or Justin Smith, not to mention the fact that San Francisco probably won't carry two long snappers on the roster. They've got much less cap room than in recent years, but really, they're in a much, much better place.


49ers' NaVorro Bowman Will Need To Be Paid Eventually, Until Then, Two Long Snappers Exceed His Cap Hit

A hat tip to Tre9er from Niners Nation for getting to this before I was able to - but I wanted to take a look at San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman anyway. Bowman had a career year for the 49ers, and actually brought up tangible discussion about whether or not he was on par with Patrick Willis. It's been well-documented, but it's worth noting again that Bowman was mistaken for Willis more than once while making a high-impact play in 2011.

The 49ers didn't just have the best group of inside linebackers in the NFL, you can definitely argue that they have the No. 1 and No. 2 linebackers in the NFL. Well, unless you think that season was a fluke, but going by 2011 and 2011 alone, this writer believes it to be true.

As noted above in the hat tip, Bowman will eventually need to get paid. The 49ers can probably have one of the best groups of inside linebackers in the league without Bowman, simply because they have Willis, but their entire defense is built on those guys making things happen on every single play. Bowman is locked up through the end of 2013, but how close do the 49ers get to that date before they decided they need to give him some serious money?

Some might say you can't pay two inside linebackers top dollar, but when they have the all-around skills of Willis and Bowman, of course you can. Now, let's look at how much Bowman is currently making, on his rookie deal, shall we? Bowman will have a cap hit of just over $720 thousand in 2012 - an absolute bargain.

To compare, the 49ers are set to pay Ryan Pontbriand, Josh Johnson, Alex Boone, Rock Cartwright, C.J. Spillman, Brian Jennings, Colin Kaepernick and 27 other players more than that amount in 2012. Larry Grant, the backup inside linebacker, is set to make more on his restricted free agent tender at the seventh-round level than Bowman in 2012.

Those numbers are outrageous, or would be if Bowman hasn't started just a single season, but it's still somewhat shocking. Two of the players on that list are long snappers. Don't be surprised if the 49ers start talking extension with Bowman late in the 2012 season, providing he's kept up his production. There's a solid chance he'll stick around for slightly less if the 49ers keep their mantra of returning defensive starters, and who wouldn't want to keep playing next to Willis?


Dontavia Bogan Waived By 49ers, A Day After Being Medically Cleared To Play

Well, that was good while it lasted. The San Francisco 49ers have announced that wide receiver Dontavia Bogan has been waived, just a day after being medically cleared to resume football activity. We wrote on how Bogan could make things interesting in camp and could compete ... which was true, providing he was actually given the opportunity.

It's true that there wasn't a ton expected of him, bug Bogan had some good highlight reels and, by all accounts, was a fantastic route runner for someone with his level of experience. He probably could have made things more interesting, but this kind of highlights San Francisco's plans for the immediate future: win the Super Bowl. They don't want developing wide receiver battles, they want to do everything they can to win now.

Maybe that means they know there won't be a place for Bogan to earn his way onto the roster, as opposed to releasing him because he's "not good enough." They simply have other plans right now, that still could include drafting a receiver high in the 2012 NFL Draft.

That being said, Bogan or not, it really does suck when something like this happens. You hate to see a player come back from injury and get waived that fast, especially if he wasn't expecting it. Bogan was very stoked yesterday, on Twitter and things of that nature talking about getting healthy, so if this news hit him unexpectedly, it ranks right up there with the roster cut-down days in terms of disappointment.


ESPN Free Agency Grades: 49ers Receive An A

Many teams have been active in this years NFL free agency, but few more so than the San Francisco 49ers. Matt Williamson of Scouts. Inc. has taken the time to grade each team's free agency in 2012, and the Niners received an A for al of their efforts this offseason.

From letting go players that would cost too much to bringing in incredible talents on the cheap, Jim Harbaugh and Co. have been absolutely killing it this offseason. Here is Williamson's analysis of the 49ers free agency moves, truly noting that the "who's got it better than us?' logic holds firm in free agency as well.

Key additions: S Dashon Goldson (franchised), QB Alex Smith (re-sign), CB Carlos Rogers (re-sign), WR Mario Manningham, LB Ahmad Brooks (re-sign), WR Randy Moss, RB Brandon Jacobs, QB Josh Johnson, CB Perrish Cox, WR Ted Ginn (re-sign), LB Tavares Gooden (re-sign)
Key losses: CB Shawntae Spencer, WR Josh Morgan, Adam Snyder

Analysis: The 49ers are returning the league's best defense intact, even though they had a few prominent players' contracts expire. While they flirted with Peyton Manning (and to me, this is where Manning should have chosen to play), they have significantly improved their offense since the NFC Championship Game. What is curious is that while San Francisco clearly made a massive effort to improve the verticality of its offense with the additions of Moss and Manningham and even the re-signing of Ginn, Smith really isn't an adept downfield passer. Still, the new perimeter speed should open up room for the rest of San Francisco's offense while allowing Jim Harbaugh to utilize more multiple-receiver sets, which obviously is the direction offense in the NFL has gone. It also wouldn't shock me if Colin Kaepernick -- and his huge arm -- finds his way behind center before long.

Grade: A

It's one of the most exciting upcoming seasons in recent memory for the San Francisco 49ers, who seemingly only got better after reaching the NFC Championship in 2011. They certainly brought the talent in to do some damage, and have the coaching staff in place to get the players motivated and ready to work.

For more on the 49ers, make sure you head over to Niners Nation.


49ers Always Intended For Less Cap Space In 2012, By Paying Patrick Willis

Some might worry that the San Francisco 49ers are going to be in cap trouble over the next couple seasons. They're wondering this because this is the first time in a long time the question has been "can the 49ers afford him?" as opposed to "will the 49ers spend that big pile of money they've got laying around?" It's true, that despite overpaying for someone like Nate Clements, the 49ers have been remarkably good with their cap space.

And it is true that there was some free space just sitting there last season. In 2012, that's not likely to be the case after rookies are signed and things of that nature. In fact, the 49ers are cutting it pretty close when it all comes down to it. That being said, this was the plan all along - and it's working out pretty flawlessly. San Francisco budgeted some guys at a pretty high dollar amount, and still had room to make the signings they wanted, with guys like Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs being added.

You have to wonder how far back the 49ers have targeted specific signings. Cap numbers are hammered out over multiple seasons, to a much more finite degree than some might think. When fans debate cap numbers, it's usually "this year", and "next year", is always given the cold shoulder.

"Pay the man X amount of dollars over X amount of years." "Back load it." "Front load it." "Give him X amount of dollars X amount of years from now."

That's not how the teams handle it ... they'll hammer out the details over the next couple years, and factor in how likely those last years are going to actually be used, whether they're invalidated by cutting a player or restructuring the deal. As it happens, 2012 will be an important year for the 49ers in regards to getting some significant dollars settled.

Namely in regards to Patrick Willis, who has a base salary of just $1.904 million in 2012, yet is set to have a cap hit of $17.6 million. That's right - the 49ers are paying Willis $17.6 million in 2012, which is more than $8 million higher than the next-highest cap hit, which is Alex Smith at $9.2 million. Smith is making a good amount of money in 2012, and will again in 2013, but the 49ers are planning on likely moving on from him after that point.

If the 49ers were wanting to pay Willis in a more balanced manner, they'd likely have around $6 million to $9 million more in cap space for 2012, making some other players a possibility. But who says balanced is the best?


49ers' Dontavia Bogan Cleared To Resume Football Activity, Will Compete For Roster Spot

The San Francisco 49ers still need help at the wide receiver position, without a true No. 1 on the roster and without one likely to come in the 2012 NFL Draft. It's possible they can use a high pick on one, but again, that player wouldn't immediately be the No. 1 receiver. Despite the fact that the position isn't quite settled at the top, there's bound to be a sizable battle near the bottom, as well.

One can assume that Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham will comprise the top two, and behind them will be Kyle Williams, with Randy Moss on the outside looking in. He'll get every opportunity to be the No. 3 guy, but nothing is guaranteed at this point. Williams should start ahead of Moss, and also ahead of Ted Ginn Jr., who was recently re-signed, but mostly as a return man. Still, Ginn wants to battle as well, so between the three of them, it gets really murky in regards to who is actually going to be the No. 3 guy. Williams and Ginn sort of switched back-and-forth in that role in 2011.

The battle will get a little more interesting given a potential rookie, and now Dontavia Bogan, an undrafted rookie last season who was injured in training camp following an ACL tear. Bogan recently Tweeted that he's now cleared to play, and he'll come to training camp hoping to earn a spot on the roster. More than that, Bogan wants to use his ability to make spectacular catches at the end of precise routes to work his way into the lineup.

He's fighting a definite uphill battle, especially given that any receiver drafted in the first five rounds or so will also start out above him in the pecking order. It will be interesting to see if Bogan can make anything happen, or if he's just another one of those players that folks clamor for because they haven't seen him and been disappointed yet. We'll see during training camp!


Brandon Jacobs Creates Competition For 49ers, Anthony Dixon On Standby

The San Francisco 49ers are simply looking to get better, at every position on the roster that can feasibly be improved upon. No position is safe, not even the "sacred bond" that Jim Harbaugh and Alex Smith apparently shared, given the team's pursuit of quarterback Peyton Manning. They've looked at most positions, grabbing upgrades at the backup fullback position with Rock Cartwright over Moran Norris, and the wide receiver position by bringing in Mario Manningham and refusing to overpay for Josh Morgan.

Now they've turned their attention to the running back position, with the signing of former New York Giants back Brandon Jacobs. It's an interesting signing to say the least, especially given how Jacobs has been prone to trash talk about the 49ers in the past. That's just business though, and he'll at least be able to bond with Manningham to assimilate into the locker room. But what does Jacobs' signing mean on the football field?

It means, in so many words, that the 49ers want more than just competition at every spot - they want multiple feasible starters at every spot. Jacobs has been a starter in the past, and has had success in that vein, but is something of a streaky player. He's just not able to hold up over the course of an entire game or an entire season of entire games with his bruising "run you over" style of play.

Much like how Frank Gore is getting to that point in his career where the mileage on him is making it prohibitive to his ability to be that bell cow that he has always been. While he's the same age as Jacobs, he indisputably has more miles on him and needs more time off now than before. But the 49ers don't want that power running back production to drop off when Gore needs a rest.

They've got Kendall Hunter as the change-of-pace back and potential starter for the future, but when Gore needs a rest and the 49ers need some tough yardage, Anthony Dixon is the only option in that vein. And the 49ers don't have a ton of confidence in Dixon when it comes to that. In the playoffs, Dixon was given a couple crucial carries and couldn't produce a first down. When his ankle was grabbed and he fell well short of the first down marker, many figured Gore would have picked up that yardage.

Or perhaps Jacobs would have. This signing is mult-faceted at this point, in that Jacobs is here to increase the effectiveness of Gore, but he also could compete with him on some level, given Gore's $6 million contract number. At this point, it's open to interpretation what the ceiling for Jacobs is in regards to having an affect on the 49ers' current roster.

But we definitely know that the floor is attempting to make Dixon expendable. Even if Dixon hoped he could be a backup fullback, Jacobs is the kind of player that ... well, doesn't need one. Jacobs is a lead blocker for Jacobs, and always has been. Should be interesting, to say the least.


2012 NFL Free Agents: 49ers Sign Brandon Jacobs, According To Reports

The San Francisco 49ers continue what has been a productive offseason as they made a low risk move in reportedly signing free agent running back Brandon Jacobs. Adam Schefter reported the deal, which comes as a bit of a surprise to fans. The 49ers have a need for depth at running back, but they also had fairly limited cap space. This move is likely a fairly low cost deal, which lowers the risk considerably.

Frank Gore is the number one back and Kendall Hunter is a lock to make the 53-man roster, but beyond that nothing is guaranteed. Anthony Dixon is a big back at the number three spot, but there have been concerns about his dancing and inability to use his size to make big gains. This move, combined with the team's addition of running back and special teams ace Rock Cartwright, put Dixon in a position where he will need to really impress the team in August.

Salary information and contract length are not known at this point, but this deal likely wraps up most of the 49ers remaining cap space. They have a certain amount set aside for draft picks, but beyond that they might have no more than enough for a veteran minimum here or there.


Mario Manningham Contract Details: 49ers Won't Pay For Mediocrity

Mario Manningham was one of the bigger-named free agent wide receivers to head into the 2012 offseason and after looking around the league, he decided to sign with one of the more wide receiver-needy teams, the San Francisco 49ers. Manningham helped lead the New York Giants to a super bowl victory in 2012 with some big catches, but his overall body of work with the Giants wasn't awe inspiring. The 49ers protected themselves in Manningham's contract just in case he didn't turn out to be the No. 1 receiver they hope he is.

Here are Manningham's contract details, thanks to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio:

1. $2 million signing bonus.

2. $1.2 million base salary for 2012, fully guaranteed.

3. $250,000 in total per-game roster bonuses for 2012.

4. $100,000 workout bonus for 2012.

5. $3.6 million base salary for 2013, $1.25 million of which is guaranteed for injury only.

6. $250,000 roster bonus for 2013.

7. $100,000 workout bonus for 2013.

There are also a long list of incentives that will put a little extra cash in Manningham's pocket if he reaches certain checkpoints. He will earn $100,000 for 70 catches, $250,000 for 80 catches or $500,000 for 90 catches. He'll earn $50,000 yards for 1,050 catches, $100,000 for 1,150 yards or $250,000 for 1,250 yards. He can also make an extra $50,000 for scoring nine touchdowns, $100,000 for scoring 11 or $250,000 for scoring 13. Finally, he can make an extra $250,000 if he makes it into the Pro Bowl.

Manningham's deal is worth $7.5 million over the next two seasons, but it can be increased to $10 million with the incentives.

Based on Manningham's best season, though, Manningham would have made just barely over his base salary of $7.5 million as he would have reached just one of his incentives. In his best season, he caught 60 passes (10 short of his lowest incentive), had 944 receiving yards (206 yards short of his lowest incentive) and he scored nine touchdowns, which would have earned him $50,000. Hopefully being in a new city and having a chance to make quite a bit more money will drive him to have the best couple seasons of his career.

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No Rock Or Hard Place For Alex Smith - It Was Always The 49ers

As already noted, Alex Smith was always going to come back to the San Francisco 49ers. That doesn't necessarily mean that there wasn't an actual chance that Peyton Manning was coming to San Francisco, it means that, in lieu of Manning, there was never any real chance of Smith ending up on another team while Manning plays for someone other than the 49ers.

There was no rock and there was no hard place - just Alex Smith completely and utterly within the 49ers' grasp whether he liked it or not.

It helps that he does like it, quite a bit. His contract is pretty team-friendly, with some decent coin coming his way over the next couple years, which bring to light questions of Colin Kaepernick. Most assumed that Kaepernick would be starting by 2013, whether that meant he'd already have a year under his belt as the starter in 2012 or not.

But what if Smith has a monster year, and then improves on it? What if he becomes that franchise quarterback that everyone wants him to be? Then everyone will forget about Kaepernick, and also Josh Johnson. And Scott Tolzien. And you know what? That's just fine. Folks will talk about the fact that the 49ers have invested in Kaepernick, and they should ultimately commit to him, regardless.

Remember, Kaepernick only cost the 49ers a second-, fourth- and fifth-round pick. It didn't cost a first, while Smith cost them the first overall pick in the 2005 draft. Sure, it took seven years to start seeing any kind of return on their investment, but if it's a return and it's worth waiting for, why throw that away for Kaepernick? Maybe they'll get some sort of trade value for him, but in the end, if Smith can pay off, then we can handle Kaepernick being a wasted pick and lot him in with Chilo Rachal and Kentwan Balmer.

It's probably safe to say that 49ers fans would love nothing more than for Smith to lead them to the Super Bowl. It would be better with Smith than it would be for Kaepernick, and any fan who says different is probably lying. It's vindication - good for the soul, and of course, good for the sports writer. Smith has been eternally mocked by the fans and beaten up more than most quarterbacks in the league, but if he builds on 2011, that will all be forgotten.


Jim Harbaugh Wants The Perfect Offense For Him; And More On Josh Johnson, Peyton Manning

Are the San Francisco 49ers dissatisfied with their quarterback position? The pursuit of Peyton Manning and the signing of Josh Johnson have led some to ask that question. It's certainly a possibility, given the fact that Jim Harbaugh is an offensive-minded guy. The problem with that kind of guy is that he's always looking to innovate and make things happen - even when the current form is working.

You see, it's not Harbaugh's style to earn a three-point win with limited offense and no turnovers. That's how he built the 49ers in 2011 because he was more than smart enough to see that they're best suited for that kind of game. He relied on Alex Smith and used him to his fullest potential in an offense that was light on frills and heavy on ball security. It worked more often than naught, but as we saw in the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Harbaugh is rarely content.

It's not that he'll change things up at the detriment to the team, it's just that he could be looking for something with a little more pop to it. That could be Josh Johnson, or it could be Colin Kaepernick. Nobody really knows right now. It's probably safe to say that Harbaugh isn't getting what he truly wants out of the quarterback position, so he's bringing in Johnson to make things interesting.

But on top of all of that, Harbaugh wants to make sure he has the best team out there at all times. In all, this isn't a lack of faith in Smith because Harbaugh showed that he's more than happy with him as "the guy." That didn't change with the pursuit of Manning, really. It was just an opportunity to get better, and he's a big fan of competition.

The guy is kind of crazy as hell - he may have even tried to have an actual competition between Manning and Smith had he got Manning under contract. That's just how he is and that's just how he's going to be.

So when it comes to bringing in Johnson, it could be so many different things, but more than anything, Harbaugh is simply covering his bases with a quarterback he has a long history with and has been successful with on some level. And do not forget this about Johnson .. quarterback and coach combinations are a real thing. Some players just work better with some coaches, and so much more potential can come forth.

Just remember that there's a difference between having a preference and being dissatisfied.


Josh Johnson Contract Details: 49ers QB Likely To Compete Primarily With Colin Kaepernick

The San Francisco 49ers announced Thursday evening they had signed Oakland native and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer QB Josh Johnson to a two-year deal. Johnson is well-connected to the 49ers as he was a star pupil of head coach Jim Harbaugh when the two were at the University of San Diego. Johnson was an undersized QB coming out of high school, but Harbaugh helped develop him into an eventual draft pick and backup quarterback in Tampa Bay.

Some of the details of Johnson's contract leaked out today and it is a deal that is both friendly to the 49ers, but also provides incentives for Johnson in the upcoming QB competition. Johnson's two year deal is worth $2 million at its base, including a $350,000 signing bonus. The deal also includes up to an additional $1.5 million in incentives that would be based on starting playing time and strong performance.

The general belief is that Alex Smith is the sure-fire number one, with Johnson coming in to compete with Colin Kaepernick for the number two job. In his Friday conference call with the media, Johnson indicated his belief in coming to San Francisco was simply concerned with getting training camp reps so he would have an opportunity to show what he can do.


Mario Manningham Contract Details: 49ers Two Year Deal Lower Than Redskins Josh Morgan Deal

The San Francisco 49ers had reportedly signed wide receiver Mario Manningham a week ago, but it took them nearly a week to officially announce the deal, and another day for any contract details to come out. Now that they are out, 49ers fans can chalk this deal up as another winner for the 49ers front office.

According to Matt Maiocco, the 49ers signed Manningham to a two year contract worth $7.375 million. The deal reportedly includes a $2 million signing bonus with base salaries of $1.2 million in 2012 and $3.6 million in 2013. The deal will feature a 2012 salary cap hit of $2.487M and a 2013 salary cap hit of $4.887M.

This deal is notable in part because of how it compares with former 49ers wide receiver Joshua Morgan. The former 49ers receiver signed a two year $11.5 million deal with the Washington Redskins. While he has considerably upside, Manningham has plenty of upside himself and would seem to at least be of comparable value to Morgan, if not more. The 49ers are constantly discussed as a team that places a specific value on free agents and generally will not push too far beyond that. This would seem to show the value of the 49ers fiscal sanity one more time.

For more on this signing and all sorts of 49ers news, head over to Niners Nation.


Why Is Josh Johnson With The 49ers? Competition? Familiarity?

Much has been said already about the signing of quarterback Josh Johnson and what it means for the current players on the San Francisco 49ers' roster. Does it mean there's now a competition with Alex Smith for the starting job, or does it mean Johnson and second-year player Colin Kaepernick are going to throw down for the main backup role? Perhaps Johnson is actually the fourth quarterback and that's what the team wants to go with, utilizing him in different ways here and there. Or maybe he's just a replacement for third-stringer Scott Tolzien.

Well, the truth is that nobody is really sure at this point. When it all comes down to it, Johnson wants to compete for a starting role, and didn't truly get that opportunity with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They were always going to go with Josh Freeman, who cost them a first-round pick, and for the most part, that's worked out for them. Johnson has always been an under-the-radar kind of guy.

So, we know Johnson wants to compete - he told the Bay Area media as much before Smith re-signed with the team, even if Smith were to come back. Well, Smith is back and Johnson is here, with Kaepernick and Tolzien in the fray. This is likely quite a few things at work here, let's take a look at a couple of them.

It's unlikely that the 49ers are not confident in Smith. They didn't feel pressured into giving him more guaranteed dollars, lest their season be lost, but they do feel like they can win football games with him at the position. This much is known to be true. But ...

It's possible that the 49ers are not totally happy with said production from the quarterbacks. Johnson is a guy who has worked with Harbaugh in the past and has a chance to put up bigger stats than Alex, if he has what it takes at the pro level. Even if the 49ers are confident in Smith, that doesn't mean they're thoroughly satisfied. Mixing it up increases the chances that you'll find someone who truly fits.

Or perhaps the 49ers are just doing Johnson a favor. Harbaugh likes him, and they might consider him the No. 3 guy now. Who really knows?

There's all kinds of other things to consider - like perhaps they're keeping Kaepernick busy while he rides the bench, or they're not satisfied with Kaepernick after drafting him. At any rate, it's highly unlikely that Johnson is here to have an actual, factual competition with Smith. Not after the money they just gave him.

Let's just call it interesting.


49ers Free Agency 2012: Josh Johnson, Ted Ginn Jr. Sign With San Francisco

The 49ers' front office is getting busy in this free agency season. A day after re-signing quarterback Alex Smith to a three-year contract, the San Francisco 49ers inked quarterback Josh Johnson and return specialist Ted Ginn Jr. to two-year and one-year contracts respectively.

Johnson, a four-year pro was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from San Diego. The Washington Redskins met with Johnson on Wednesday before he ultimately chose the 49ers. He will be reunited with 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh who coaches Johnson while he was at San Diego.

"I’d get to come home, be with my family, play for a coach that changed my life and play for a team that I grew up loving," Johnson said to The Chronicle. (Via: San Francisco Chronicle)

Ginn Jr. re-signed with the 49ers after testing the waters with Detroit, Minnesota and Baltimore. In 14 games for San Francisco last season, Ginn returned 38 punts for 468 total yards, with three returns for over 40 yards. He conducted a free agency tour looking for more opportunities as a receiver, but in the end he returned to San Francisco for another season.

For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation.


Josh Johnson Signs Two-Year Deal With 49ers, Giving Alex Smith Competition In Camp

The San Francisco 49ers and Jim Harbaugh have never had an issue with position battles in camp. Not only do they tend to the get the most out of players, but it also provides even more motivation for the guys in the offseason when it's easy to sit around and relax. Despite recently re-signing starting quarterback Alex Smith, the 49ers added yet another quarterback on Thursday evening: Josh Johnson.

Johnson, a fifth round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009, has started just five games while primarily backing up Josh Freeman. The 25-year-old thrived at San Diego University under head coach Jim Harbaugh, and the front office must feel like there is enough potential left in Johnson to hand him a two-year deal. Maybe his former coach is all he needs to become a quality starting quarterback once again.

"Josh is a promising young player that has experience in our offensive system," said 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke. "He is a skilled athlete with good arm talent. Josh has shown promise in limited action, both as a back-up and starter at the NFL level. We are pleased to add him to our team."

It is unclear just how Johnson will fit in with San Francisco. This now gives the team four legitimate quarterbacks -- Smith, Johnson, Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien -- and does not include any other QBs potentially added at the NFL Draft next month. You would think Smith would have the job locked down given his recent success and playoff run, but he will have plenty of competition behind him should he falter early in the year.

For more on Johnson and the 49ers, check out Niners Nation.


49ers Free Agency 2012: Team Re-Signs WR Ted Ginn Jr. And Are Set On Returns

At one point or another during this free agency period, the San Francisco 49ers have been ready to part ways with Alex Smith and Carlos Rogers, and from the beginning, there weren't many people even questioning whether or not wide receiver and return specialist Ted Ginn Jr. would be coming back. Most figured the 49ers would let him walk, for one reason or another.

Defining those reasons is actually kind of hard. He was never set to make a ton of money, and the team used him as their primary kick and punt returner in 2011, so why was it thought that he wouldn't be making a return? It's likely because most saw him on offense so much, and the 49ers just added two new receivers in Randy Moss and Mario Manningham.

But that's the thing - San Francisco doesn't really want to use him as a receiver so much. He's one of the better return specialists in the league. And the team announced, via Twitter, that Ginn is coming back on a one-year deal. It's kind of sudden, mostly because there wasn't any talk of Ginn returning for several days, and nobody had reported that the team was making attempts to bring him back.

Ginn was hoping to get a chance to play more receiver in 2012, but this writer's guess is that won't happen. He did get significant time in 2011, with injuries to the wide receivers and a complete lack of ability from Braylon Edwards. Now, he'll focus on being a return-man, and possibly be the fourth or fifth guy down on the depth chart.

Either way, it's a solid signing for the 49ers. They've brought in some guys who can handle kick returns, in Rock Cartwright and Perrish Cox, but punt returning is serious business that not just everyone can do. Ginn is one of the top players at the position and has been since entering the league. Ginn's important can be explained just by watching the NFC Championship game, when Kyle Williams filled in and committed a couple costly turnovers that cost the 49ers the game.


Mario Manningham On Joining 49ers: 'That's The Team I Wanted To Go To'

The San Francisco 49ers were happy to finalize their deal with wide receiver Mario Manningham on Thursday afternoon, and held a conference call soon afterwards to discuss his feelings on his digs out West, and what he expects from his new team.

"I wanted to go to the 49ers, that's the team I wanted to go to," he said during a conference call with reporters. "They have a good coaching staff, great players around them and I know what they're capable of doing," Manningham said.

Manningham agreed to his deal before the whole Alex Smith, Peyton Manning thing really heated up, and wanted to make sure that it was known that the possibility of Manning joining the Niners had nothing to do with his decision:

"I thought he was coming to the 49ers but he didn't, he went to Denver. So good luck with him with there, and I just wish everything the best for him. We have Alex Smith -- he's a great player and he played good last year. I knew it was a possibility but I wasn't picking them because of that."

Manningham joins a group of Michael Crabtree and veteran Randy Moss, a rather solid core of receivers on paper. Now the question will be how Alex Smith meshes with his new targets. Either way, it's certainly exciting to have some more playmakers on the squad.

For more in depth discussion and analysis of the San Francisco 49ers, make sure you check out Niners Nation to get in on the action.


It Was Clear That Alex Smith Wasn't Going Anywhere, And Here's Why ...

It's unclear who's feelings were hurt, who was slapping who in the face an who, in fact, insulted who's mother when it came down to the San Francisco 49ers and Alex Smith. If you believe a lot of the reporting, Smith was jaded and insulted about the fact that the 49ers pursued Peyton Manning, and if you agree with a lot of blogging, you believe that he was right in feeling that way.

Well - this is a business, and it happens to be a damn fine one, because Smith and the 49ers are back together and they're not weakened. They're not being forced to re-build a relationship. They're a player and a team who had some tough negotiations during free agency and really, did you ever think he was leaving?

One thing that became abundantly clear, at least to this writer, was that seeing Smith in a different uniform would have been ... weird. The guy is a 49er, through all of the idiocy and instability, he remained here. It would have been a pretty big shock to see Smith depart over a couple million, when he survived all kinds of things, from Mike Nolan calling him out for not playing with a separated shoulder to Jimmy Raye searching Yahoo for the rat.

No, it was pretty clear that the 49ers weren't going to lose out on Smith if they didn't sign Manning, and it's not because there's some insight that I have that you don't. There's nothing that's making me more qualified than you ... but if you did worry, there is definitely something you overlooked.

The Miami Dolphins are a terrible organization. Boosh.


Mike Wallace An Attractive Option For 49ers, But Not At Larry Fitzgerald Money

At the beginning of this free agency period, there was a small push by fans campaigning for the San Francisco 49ers to sign Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace. It just so happens that this writer was leading that campaign, but that's neither here nor there. The biggest issues in regards to signing Wallace are that he'll cost any team a first-round pick due to his restricted free agent tender, and he'll cost boatloads of legal tender.

Now, this writer is of the opinion that the 49ers need to go out and get a No. 1 receiver, and they need to pay him like one. San Francisco hasn't been paying a No. 1 receiver in some time, and it's about time they sink $9 million to $11 million per year into that position to get someone dependable.

But according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, Wallace didn't just want No. 1 money. Wallace was looking for ridiculous money. Barrows says that Wallace is looking for a deal that exceeds Larry Fitzgerald's deal of eight years at $120 million. That's insane ... absolutely insane in every way. Wallace is only 25 years-old, and is definitely a No. 1 receiver, but he's not the No. 1 receiver.

It does feel good to know that the 49ers did look into signing Wallace at the start of free agency, though. It shows that the team knows they need to get better, even after signing Mario Manningham. That being said, it doesn't mean Wallace is fully off the market. If he wants to get paid sooner rather than later, he could budge on his contract talks and take, say, a shorter deal.

The other teams interested aren't likely to pay him that number, either. So Wallace can either make less than $3 million this year or lower his demands. That being said, it might be smart for him to just play out this tender and his unrestricted free agency in 2013 - but then the Steelers could use the franchise tag on him. There's a lot of options right now, but it's a good bet to say that there are teams interested in paying him like a No. 1. Just not .. Fitzgerald No. 1.


NFL Free Agency 2012: Geoff Schwartz, 49ers, Begin Contract Negotiations, According to Report

According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Eric Branch the San Francisco 49ers and free agent lineman Geoff Schwartz have begun contract negotiations, looking to fill the void of Adam Snyder departing for the Arizona Cardinals.

"We're excited - we think San Francisco could be a great fit," said Deryk Gilmore, Schawrtz's agent. "We have to reach agreement on little things. If we can do that, I could see him being a Niner blocking for Alex (Smith) ... Hopefully, San Francisco knocks us out."

Gilmore also noted that Schwartz enjoyed meeting both head coach Jim Harbaugh and quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst during his visit as well.

Schwartz, the seventh-round pick of the Panthers in 2008, sat out last year with a hip injury but played every snap for Carolina in 2010, starting at both right guard and right tackle, possibly providing some extra versatility on the O-line for San Francisco if he decides to sign with them.

For more on the San Francisco 49ers, please head over to Niners Nation, SB Nation's preposterously passionate 49ers blog.


Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers, Officially Agree To Three-Year Deal

More: On Alex Smith Signing

The San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Alex Smith have officially come to terms on a three year deal worth $8 million a year and $16.5 million guaranteed, keeping the bromance of head coach Jim Harbaugh and Smith intact for a few more seasons after a tumultuous week for free agent QB's across the nation.

"We are pleased that Alex has chosen to continue his career as a 49er," said 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke. "His contributions were instrumental to our success in 2011, and we look forward to the continued growth of our offense under his leadership"

Smith is coming off his best year as a professional, leading the 49ers to a 13-3 record, the NFC West division crown and a trip to the NFC Championship game. He started all 16 regular season games, completing 273 of 445 passes for a career-high 3,144 yards with 17 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He also posted a career-high 90.7 QB rating, while leading the 49ers to five, 4th-quarter comebacks in the regular season.

For more on Alex Smith and the 49ers in general, please head over to Niners Nation.


Alex Smith Contract Details: 49ers Give QB $16.5 Million Guaranteed, Three Years, According To Reports

It's been a long and somewhat confusing free agency period for the San Francisco 49ers. More accurately, it's been long and confusing for their fans, who have had to follow along while their team tries to court Peyton Manning. That's all over now, and the horrible, broken relationship with all of the hurt feelings and face-slapping between Jim Harbaugh and Alex Smith has been mended.

That was sarcasm, if you didn't catch that - a nod to the folks who have been putting way too much emotion into the business side of things. So let's just pass that on by and get to more business-related things. The 49ers had a reported offer of around $24 million over three years for Smith during the Manning saga, so it was assumed his eventual contract would look a bit like that.

Janie McCauley is reporting via Twitter that Smith's deal is worth $33 million altogether. It confirms a three-year deal, with $8 million per season and $16.5 million guaranteed. This fits the bill of three years at $24 million, with the other $9 million or so coming from incentives. None of this is confirmed, but it is a solid launching point for the discussion and the numbers seem pretty accurate.

What's going to be interesting is seeing what Alex's year one cap hit is, and how much space the 49ers have to make some moves. They've got a decent amount of space left, but still don't have a right guard and will have to sign all of their draft picks. It'll be interesting to see what year three looks like, as most assume it will be time for Colin Kaepernick by then.


49ers, Mike Wallace Rumors Just Won't Go Away - Ready For Some Kaepernaction?

Stop us if you've heard this one. The San Francisco 49ers could be in pursuit of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace. This idea has been around since the start of free agency, when Wallace become a restricted free agent tendered at the first-round level. This means that, in order to get Wallace, the 49ers would need to pay him more than Pittsburgh is willing to, and also forfeit the 30th-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

That statement in and of itself ("forfeiture of first-round pick") is a scary one to most NFL fans, but take a look at that number again. No. 30. That's a spot where the 49ers aren't guaranteed to find somebody they really like, especially at positions of need like offensive guard and wide receiver. Is Stephen Hill a better option than Wallace? Surely not.

Wallace is, again, 25 years old, very productive, and one of the best deep threats in the NFL. On the 49ers, he'd be an instant No. 1 receiver, and the great thing is, there's plenty of room for him. Sure, the 49ers just inked Mario Manningham to a two-year deal, but Manningham certainly isn't a No. 1 receiver. In fact, he's best suited in a slot role, which leaves Michael Crabtree to be the No. 1 guy.

While Crabtree showed a lot of poise and promise as the 2011 season dragged on, he hasn't lived up to his status as a top-ten pick and it's not likely that he ever will. But as a No. 2 guy, Crabtree really could flourish. Don't even mention Randy Moss, because he has no business being in any projected top three right now, which isn't a terrible thing. Moss is a tryout -- an undrafted rookie and nothing more. Forget about him for now.

Peter King is the one who isn't letting the Wallace rumors die down, suggesting that San Francisco could be in play under certain circumstances. King isn't a believer in Colin Kaepernick, and suggests the 49ers would sign Josh Johnson for a low number, but the point is that if San Francisco loses out on the Peyton Manning sweepstakes and Alex Smith ends up going to the Miami Dolphins, then they'd have considerable money to throw at Wallace.

Personally, this seems like a real possibility. The 49ers knew the risks of flirting with Manning when it came to Smith's status, and we all know that the team traded up to pick Kaepernick in the 2011 NFL Draft. They clearly believe in Kaepernick, and what better way to support him than by giving him Wallace? Kaepernick certainly has a huge arm -- try and find a better situation to put him in than starting QB of the 49ers, with their special teams and defense and guys like Wallace, Crabtree, Manningham, Vernon Davis and Frank Gore on offense.

Just try. We'll wait.


49ers Free Agency 2012: So They've Got Mario Manningham, Now How About A Guard?

The San Francisco 49ers are certainly making moves during this free agency period, though many of them have been pretty unexpected. Largely dominating the headlines is the news about Peyton Manning, but just underneath has been the search for a wide receiver, which has been mostly spoiled by the Washington Redskins and some other teams. Guys like Pierre Garcon and Chaz Schilens signed elsewhere, but the 49ers waited patiently and got their guy in Mario Manningham.

He's not a player that inspires a ton of confidence given his recent level of play, but he seems to have more "boom" potential than some of the other aforementioned receivers, and probably didn't come with a high price tag. In short, it's a good signing at face value.

And now the 49ers can move on to something more important. No, not Manning - though that is definitely more important. What the 49ers need to move on to right now is the signing of a right guard. Why is that more important than the wide receiver position, you might ask? Because the 49ers have Michael Crabtree, Kyle Williams and Randy Moss. Sure, the latter isn't much of anything right now, and as big an unknown commodity as a Mr. Irrelevant pick at this point, but there's bodies there.

There's nobody to play right guard. There's not even a guy who fans are lukewarm about who could potentially play if need be. Daniel Kilgore is the closest to fitting that mold and he just ... really doesn't. He's not ready, he's not even approaching the potential of possibly being ready some day. It's not often a team goes through free agency this long without having a starter or backup at an actual position.

Look for the 49ers to really make a push for someone like Geoff Schwartz when he visits on Monday.


Free Agency 2012: 49ers Showing Interest In Laurent Robinson, Chaz Schilens

Day two of free agency is here, and with it comes more and more speculation surrounding the San Francisco 49ers and the wide receiver position. Day one saw the big names snatched up, and then a group of mid-tier guys all heading to the Washington Redskins, including Josh Morgan, who has played his career (until now) with the 49ers. They also signed Pierre Garcon and Eddie Royal, making the pool of available receivers much more shallow.

Now the 49ers have turned their interest to an even lower tier of receivers, with Chaz Schilens being the guy discussed through the night and set to visit on Wednesday. Schilens has played with the Oakland Raiders and probably would have been very productive if he could have stayed healthy on a consistent basis. Instead, he was hurt often, and wasn't able to use his great size to help him into the top tier of receivers.

Still, he remains an intriguing option - but he's not the only one. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reported, citing a source, that the 49ers are now expressing interest in former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Laurent Robinson. He's received interest from a few teams thus far, but there's no visit scheduled with the 49ers just yet.

Robinson had 11 touchdowns in 2011, and is just 26 years-old. Starting just four games, he had over 800 yards and is hoping to make the next step in production in 2012. If he can make that jump, then he'll certainly be valuable to the 49ers, who currently don't have much at the wide receiver position and not a ton of cap room left to work with.


Free Agency 2012: 49ers Lose Blake Costanzo, Who Goes To Chicago, But Why?

The first stretch of the 2012 free agency period has been hectic, to say the least. Or maybe it's just hectic because San Francisco 49ers fans are rabid for a lot of odd things, while the team is somewhat inactive, as is the usual case. While the fans worked themselves into a frenzy over Mike Wallace and the potential departure of linebacker Blake Costanzo, the team quietly courted guys like Eric Wright and Brandon Carr, before ultimately re-signing Carlos Rogers.

Unlike the Wallace frenzy, the fans had a good reason to get worked up about a potential departure for Costanzo, because he actually left. He signed a two-year contract with the Chicago Bears, and in doing so did not spurn the 49ers organization even a little bit. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

Before free agency started, you'd have been hard-pressed to find a player that had the perception of remaining with the team more than Costanzo. We previously said it'd be hard to see him leave, even if the 49ers offered him, oh, a hundred bucks a game. But during the day, it was revealed that Costanzo had two offers on the table - neither of them from the 49ers. That ended with a Twitter-wide double-take and tons of passionate fans Tweeting Costanzo, the 49ers and Jed York.

Costanzo took to Twitter, re-tweeting all of the positive messages from fans and noted several times that he did not want to leave. It looks like the 49ers didn't have him in their plans going forward.

And that could be a problem. The 49ers had an excellent defense in the NFL in 2011 - perhaps the best. As a reaction to that, San Francisco retained all of the defensive starters, capping it with the aforementioned Rogers signing. On the flip-side, their special teams unit wasn't just the best in 2011, it was among the best in recent memory, and at the forefront of the coverage units was Costanzo.

So why not bring him back? There's a couple possibilities, like the 49ers feeling like their schemes going forward would better suit some other players on the roster. They do have Colin Jones, who played a lot of special teams in 2011 but didn't really "get" it until late in the season. They could be expecting him to step up alongside C.J. Spillman and lead the coverage units. Curtis Holcomb could be back and healthy, ready to contribute.

Still, it's somewhat of a head-scratcher, given the relatively low amount that Costanzo will be paid in Chicago.


2012 Free Agents: 49ers Interested In Brandon Carr, Eric Wright

Most of the updates regarding the San Francisco 49ers and this free agency period have revolved around the wide receiver market. Could Mike Wallace be an option, will they be in on Vincent Jackson, they're out of the Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan market - things of that nature. The first real, pertinent news to actually concern them and their intent to sign someone since the beginning of this period doesn't feature a receiver at all.

Jason LaCanfora is reporting via Twitter that the 49ers are in pursuit of Detroit Lions cornerback Eric Wright. He's only 26 years-old and had a productive season with the Lions in 2011, with 16 passes defensed, starting all 16 games and without safety help a lot of the time. He also picked off four passes and looked good doing it.

We'll see where that goes in the near future, as the 49ers are supposed to be very interested. In the mean time, it looks like they're really getting set for a cornerback push, as Adam Schefter reports that the 49ers are in on Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Carr as well.

Carr is just about entering his prime and is a solid option to go forward as the No. 1 corner. It's hard to think about Carlos Rogers being on his way out, but Carr has age and upside on his side, as does Wright, to a slightly lesser extent. Both of these players had stellar 2011 seasons and have been looking forward to hitting free agency to see what they can get.


Josh Morgan Reportedly Set To Sign With Redskins, 49ers Getting Worse At WR

Coming just after the Washington Redskins took Pierre Garcon off the free agent market (potentially with a ridiculously high salary), they're making headlines again in the wide receiver market. As is the case with anything having to do with a wide receiver, it's going to affect the San Francisco 49ers, as they're definitely in the market for another receiving target, despite the signing of Randy Moss.

Adam Schefter is reporting, via Twitter, that the Redskins are close to signing Josh Morgan, who has only played for the 49ers up to this point. So, obviously it's going to have more of an effect on the 49ers than the Garcon signing. No word yet on whether or not it's a done deal or the money involved, but many figured Morgan would re-sign with the 49ers.

San Francisco certainly made it known that they were planning to bring Morgan back. It's going to be odd to see him in another uniform, but more than that, the 49ers now have VERY limited options at wide receiver, with Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams being the only guys under contract (along with the aforementioned Moss).

Morgan is from the area, so it makes sense that he's going back to Washington. In the scope of an hour, the Redskins have drastically improved at wide receiver with a new quarterback coming in the 2012 NFL draft by all accounts, and the 49ers have done nothing but sign a guy who might still possibly maybe kind of/sort of run a streak route in Moss.

Let's see where this goes!


49ers Re-Sign Tavares Gooden, Working To Keep Strong Special Teams Intact

The San Francisco 49ers made a move at the start of free agency, though it's nothing huge and something that could have happened, you know, a couple months ago. The team announced that they've re-signed linebacker Tavares Gooden on a one-year deal. It is somewhat surprising due to the lacking playing time he received in 2012, but it's all likely for minimum dollars, so surprise is limited in that vein.

Gooden did not see the field much on defense, but that's not a huge knock against him. The 49ers had Larry Grant to be their backup inside linebacker behind superstars Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Not getting playing time against that group of players is nothing to be upset about, by any stretch of the imagination. It's likely the 49ers would have played Gooden if Grant was not available though, as he's had starting experience in the past.

Most of his work came on special teams, where he was part of one of the best groups of special teamers in recent memory. He wasn't one of the core guys that you think about when you consider the impact players (C.J. Spillman and Blake Costanzo come to mind), but anything the 49ers do to keep that group together as a whole can only be a good thing. It's hard to argue with keeping all the pieces of that group together.

There's also a chance that Gooden has a vote of confidence on the defensive side of the ball. Grant has been tendered with an original-round tender, meaning seventh-round, and it's likely he finds some more money elsewhere. The 49ers might consider Gooden a solid backup candidate in the event that Grant is on his way out. He did have plenty of playing time with the Baltimore Ravens before coming to San Francisco, and in fact, many 49ers fans expected to see more of him.


Brandon Marshall Trade: Miami To Chicago Deal Improves 49ers' WR Free Agency Chances

It's no secret that the San Francisco 49ers are widely considered to still be in the market for a wide receiver in free agency, despite signing Randy Moss to a one-year deal before the period began. The market shrank a little when Marques Colston re-signed with the New Orleans Saints with a five-year deal. Now it looks like the market got a little bit better for San Francisco.

Just before we hit the mark for free agency (oh God it's starting), Jay Glazer broke a pretty big trade on Twitter, as Brandon Marshall appears to have been traded from the Miami Dolphins to the Chicago Bears for a couple of third-round picks. Marshall is one of the NFL's best receivers and likely wanted to hook back up with Jay Cutler in Chicago to get his career on track.

This is pertinent because it was no secret that the Bears were likely in the wide receiver market in regards to the available free agents. That's less competition for guys like Vincent Jackson or Mike Wallace, on top of the other tier of receivers, like Josh Morgan. It's unlikely the Bears will commit a ton of resources to further shoring up the position with a clear No. 1 guy like Marshall in the mix.

There's still plenty to get in the way of the 49ers signing a guy - like the fact that Wallace would require a first-round pick, the Washington Redskins vomiting money all over the place and, of course, the fact that the 49ers still have some deficiencies in the secondary and on the offensive line.


Perrish Cox Contract: 49ers Get Cornerback For Minimum Salary

Earlier today, the San Francisco 49ers announced the signing of free agent cornerback Perrish Cox to a two year contract. The talented but recently troubled cornerback was out of the league in 2011 as he dealt with a sexual assault charge and his new contract shows that he is simply looking to get back into the league and prove himself. Reports indicate the contract is for the league minimum both years.

The only real question mark surrounding Cox's talent was a slow 40-yard dash prior to the 2010 NFL Draft. However, as Dan Kadar of Mocking the Draft points out, Cox has generally appeared to play faster than his 4.6 40-time would indicate. He is not a big guy, but he has the ability to play very physical, which can help him against the sizable wide receivers in the NFL.

For the 49ers, the deal represents a low risk, high potential opportunity. If Cox struggles on or off the field they can release him at minimal cost. If Cox shows he has turned over a new leaf and becomes a strong player, it could be quite the coup for the team.


Perrish Cox Signing: 49ers Get High Potential With Very Questionable Character

With the news that the 49ers have confirmed the signing of Perrish Cox to a two-year deal comes ... well, not a whole lot of clarity. With Carlos Rogers not having a deal in place and the free agency period set to start in just under two hours, the 49ers are definitely not set at the cornerback position. They've got guys like Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver, with Tramaine Brock also having recently re-signed, but there's not much else.

So what does Cox bring to the table?

He brings a whole lot of character issues that the 49ers hope are resolved. It's unclear how they plan to use him, but he's been considered a very high-potential guy at the cornerback position and would appear to still have some upside. But he's not a guaranteed commodity by any means, especially coming out of the fifth round.

That being said, Cox fell to the fifth round for a couple reasons. On one hand, he ran a slow 40 and that took him down from perhaps a second-round status, and there were wide reports of potential character issues. Those character issues eventually dropped him down to the 137th pick in the draft, where the Denver Broncos took him. There was some definite talk about his upside, as a potential successor to Champ Bailey, which certainly is high praise.

On the field with Denver, Cox played well, and made a successful transition to playing corner in the NFL. Then there was the sexual assault charge that led to his arrest and release from the team. Those are two very dirty words, and something 49ers fans generally aren't familiar with when it comes to one of their rostered players. In short, Cox was charged with raping an incoherent woman, though he was very recently declared not guilty.

It's true that the "in short" is followed by something very serious and very hard-hitting. It's kind of odd, as the 49ers aren't typically signing guys with these kind of character issues. Suffice to say that everyone, and especially this writer, hope that Cox didn't ever approach the level of sickening that the case alleged and that he is beyond being in those kinds of situations.

So back to the present day, where he was given a two-year deal, a year away from football and doesn't seem to have a whole lot planned in regards to what he'll be doing in 2012 with the 49ers. There is a big chance that Cox will be used as a return-man on punts and kickoffs, something he was highly productive with in college. This would mean that Ted Ginn Jr. is unlikely to be back with the 49ers in 2012 and could sign elsewhere once free agency starts.

But he almost surely will get a chance to play on defense. The 49ers are not stacked in their secondary and he should have plenty of opportunities to play up to the fact that he was considered one of the highest potential corners in the 2010 draft. From a potential standpoint, the signing makes world of sense and he can probably do some great things if he's stayed in as good a shape as he says he has. He spent a ton of time training, has played under Ed Donatell, and has some connections on the roster that could be a good influence.

Only time will tell if the Cox signing is a good one, but it's likely that this is a very team-friendly deal, regardless. Now it's a question of whether or not Jim Harbaugh can keep that locker room in check, especially with someone like Randy Moss having just been brought in, as well.


San Francisco 49ers Free Agency 2012: 49ers Sign Former Broncos CB Perrish Cox

According to a tweet from ESPN's Josina Anderson, the San Francisco 49ers have signed former Broncos cornerback Perrish Cox to a two-year-deal.

This signing comes on the heels of the Niners re-signing cornerback Tramaine Brock to a one-year deal on Monday. Cornerback Carlos Rogers is expected to be pursued by the rival St. Louis Rams so the Niners are doing what is necessary to make sure their defensive backfield is prepared to face the high-powered quarterbacks and offenses it will face this season.

Cox was released by the Denver Broncos prior to the 2011 season amid a sexual assault case which he was found not guilty on March 2. Mile High Report describes him as a "high risk, high reward type player" with "unquestioned talent". But his off the field issues have always been a concern both before he was drafted and now.

Cox played 15 games in 2010, starting nine for the Broncos and recorded 58 tackles, one interception and forced two fumbles. He can also serve as a return man.

Editor's Note: GM Trent Baalke commented on th


Saints Reportedly Re-Sign Marques Colston, 49ers' Receiver Options Shrinking In Free Agency

One of the biggest needs for the San Francisco 49ers heading into free agency (and if not addressed there, the 2012 NFL Draft) is wide receiver. The signing of Randy Moss to a one-year deal laden with incentives and low on risk doesn't change the fact that the 49ers don't have a true No. 1 target as the go-to guy. It's now abundantly clear that Michael Crabtree isn't going to be that guy, so the team could be active once free agency opens at 1:00 p.m. pacific.

There will be one less guy on the market though, as Jay Glazer is reporting via Twitter (with a scoopage, or something) that the New Orleans Saints have agreed to bring Marques Colston back on a five-year deal. There's no details on the dollar amount yet, but it's important for a couple reasons.

For one, Colston was considered one of the top three receivers to hit the open market. The others are Mike Wallace and Vincent Jackson, though the former is a restricted free agent with a first-round tender applied to him. His re-signing means that teams needy at the position may pay higher for guys like Jackson or even the mid-tier of receiver set to hit (including San Francisco's own Josh Morgan).

For two, it means that the Saints may not be able to sign some other important pieces, who could now be hitting the market in a matter of hours. One such piece is offensive guard Carl Nicks, who the 49ers would definitely benefit from having. Nicks is among the league's best guards, and while the 49ers haven't truly been linked to him, it's an interesting possibility with the Saints possibly out of the picture.

In regards to Colston, some teams were wary of him, anyway. His skill-set is not thoroughly broad, nor is he "the" highlight reel receiver, he's just crazy productive. The biggest question mark is how much of that is him and how much of that is the Saints' high-flying offense. It's ridiculously hard to judge their receivers, and it was probably best for everyone that Colston remained with the Saints.


Randy Moss Contract: 49ers New Receiver Reportedly To Get $2.5 Million Base Salary

Well, it's not quite the huge wide receiver signing that some fans expected, but Randy Moss is the newest member of the San Francisco 49ers. He worked out with a couple teams, but ultimately signed a deal with the 49ers after one workout in the Bay Area. Teams are wary of Moss due to his declining play, his age and the fact that he's been trouble in the locker room at one point or another.

That being said, Moss was pursued by teams due to the perception that he wasn't going to cost a lot of money. Teams didn't necessarily "need" Moss as much as he needed them, so the deals could be structured accordingly. There's now some information coming out in regards to just how much Moss will be paid during his one-year deal with the 49ers, and it definitely fits the bill of "low risk."

Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reported via Adam Schefter that the deal is for $2.5 million, with another $1.5 million possible in incentives. At first glance, $2.5 million does seem a bit high, but the guaranteed dollars are not known and Moss is expected to have a short leash. To reach even the initial $2.5 million, he'll likely need to play in each game and, you know, actually be on the roster.

The guaranteed dollar amount isn't as important now that we know the base is $2.5 million. That number alone shows that it's team-friendly, but it will be interesting - at the least - to see if Moss worked a higher guaranteed number in there to sign before free agency kicks in, as opposed to going and trying out elsewhere, muddying the waters a bit for the 49ers in regards to where they stand on acquiring receiving talent.


Randy Moss Is A Niner, So What's Next?

Now that Randy Moss is in town, what does that mean for the San Francisco 49ers? What changes? Or does anything change at all? As with the reaction to the surprising signing of the briefly retired future Hall of Fame receiver, the future is just as interesting and unpredictable.

SI.com asked the questions, ‘does Moss have anything left in the tank?', ‘who will throw him the football?' and ‘how will Jim Harbaugh adjust for Moss' abilities?' ESPN.com even took it as far as calling Moss the ‘new Braylon Edwards', after the failed marriage between Edwards and the Niners ended before the playoffs last season.

It is all relevant. Moss didn't finish his last season in 2010 strong and is 35-years-old. Alex Smith is still working on a contract with the Niners but who knows if he'll be able to continue his successful campaign from a year ago. And adding Moss to a run-first, ball control offense has internal conflict written all over it unless the Niners are getting a Moss that just wants to play football.

And that remains to be seen.


Randy Moss Signing With San Francisco 49ers Reaction

The San Francisco 49ers now have Randy Moss on their team. It could be a big signing for them, or it might just be a big name. It's unclear how crucial the signing will be to the team's hopes of winning, but it's clear Jim Harbaugh believes it's an important signing.

How exactly will it affect the Niners? David Fucillo, our esteemed SB Nation Bay Area editor and Niners Nation expert, provides his thoughts on the new signing.

1. Think Moss will be the #1 option for the 49ers, or just become another face in the crowd?

David: Although we don't have contract details yet, as a one year deal, this is pretty low risk. Given what they learned from Braylon Edwards struggles, I think they will be looking for another significant option. Moss is there to stretch the field and be a deep threat to open up the middle of the field for Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, maybe Joshua Morgan if he re-signs.

2. Based on how the way the 49ers offense runs, will they utilize Moss to open up the passing game, or further reinforce a run-heavy style?

David: They signed Moss to be a deep threat. There have been question marks about his willingness to get into the blocking side of things. You don't sign Randy Moss to reinforce a run-heavy offense. It doesn't mean they're suddenly going to a spread offense, but it provides a deep option for Alex.

3. Will (and should) San Francisco still take a receiver with their first pick?

David: I still think they could, particularly if a young speedster like Stephen Hill drops to them.

To talk about Moss with 49ers fans, head on over to Niners Nation.


San Francisco 49ers, Jim Harbaugh Pick Randy Moss Up From The Airport

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss seems to be well-liked by head coach Jim Harbaugh. How do we know that?

Here are some more quotes about Moss; check out the conference call by clicking here.

  • Moss liked the 49ers upside considering how close they came to the NFC Championship, and it's something he looked at and evaluated. Jim Harbaugh is a young, enthusiastic coach, and Moss loved that enthusiasm.
  • Moss still remains really passionate about football, but he just had some personal issues that cost him from playing last year.
  • Moss doesn't really know Alex Smith that well, but is looking forward to working with everybody.
  • Moss says he didn't discuss a lot about his role. Whatever his role is, he just wants to get out there and be productive.
  • Moss found it intriguing to reach out to the 49ers to come out and give everything he had today. He just wanted to come out and get back to what I do.
  • Moss believes he's here to "play football and stretching the field", meaning the 49ers seem interested in stretching the field with him.
  • Moss likes what he can do for the NFL, doesn't like what the NFL can do for him.
  • Moss signed a one year deal, but he just wants to play football "one day at a time"
  • Moss was asked about Harbaugh's blue collar mentality: "They've done their homework on me otherwise they wouldn't have brought me in there."
  • Moss understands how the sports world shows his reputation and he thinks the 49ers have done their research.

To discuss Moss, Harbaugh, and the 49ers, check out Niners Nation.


San Francisco 49ers, Randy Moss Agree To One Year Deal

The San Francisco 49ers believe they came up one solid wide receiver short of an NFC championship last year, as the 49ers had to rely almost solely on Vernon Davis to open up the passing attack for Alex Smith in the playoffs. Michael Crabtree was ineffective in that number one receiver role. It seemed like the NFL Draft would be the perfect spot to find that type of player, but San Francisco is also looking like they want at least one quality free agent as well who could make an immediate impact.

Adam Schefter of ESPN files this report.

Moss was a great receiver back in the day, but he will be 35 years old this season and did not play in the league in 2011. In 2010, Moss played for three different football teams (traded from the New England Patriots, waived by the Minnesota Vikings, retiring after finishing the season with the Tennessee Titans), managing only 28 total catches and 393 yards. This could just be a calculated risk by Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke to find a brief talent burst before replenishing the coffers with greater receiver talent.

And if he fails? You cut him and move on.

To discuss Moss and the 49ers with San Francisco fans, head on over to Niners Nation.


2012 NFL Offseason: 49ers Sign CB Tramaine Brock To One-Year Deal

The San Francisco 49ers signed cornerback Tramaine Brock to a one-year exclusive rights contract worth $540,000, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The Bee cited Brock's agent, Ron Slavin, as its source.

Brock - who broke his hand in Week 2 against the Dallas Cowboys and missed three weeks - started the season as the no. 3 cornerback for the Niners before his injury. Chris Culliver took advantage of Brock's missed time and filled the same role for the remainder of the season.

What cornerback Carlos Rogers decides to do will determine where on the depth chart Brock will find himself. If Rogers returns, he'd start training camp as the no. 4 corner. If Rogers leaves via free agency, Brock could find himself back in his old no. 3 spot behind Culliver and Tarell Brown.

Depth at the cornerback position will be paramount for the Niners with so many top of the line quarterbacks in the NFC, especially if Peyton Manning decides to join the party via the Arizona Cardinals.


Randy Moss to Workout For 49ers According to Report

A few credible sources including our own Niners Nation have figured out that veteran wideout Randy Moss is looking to make his way back into the NFL once more, allegedly having a workout with the San Francisco 49ers in the next few days.

According to reports Moss is scheduled to fly to the Bay Area on Sunday and workout for the 49ers on Monday, who have seemingly been in need of a deep threat receiver since Jerry Rice became an Oakland Raider. Moss turned 35 last month, noting he wanted to un-retire on his birthday this February.

Moss's pre-madonna tendencies have been part of his career since college, but it seemed to get worse in his last few spots in the league. Well, moreso than previous years I guess you could say (see return to Minnesota, Tennessee Titans). Something tells me that a me-oriented player like Moss is someone that Coach Harbaugh would avoid like the plague, unless there's been some big change of heart over the past year or so.

Personally, I think he's doing this for one reason and one reason only.

For more on the 49ers, head over to Niners Nation to get in on the action.

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NFL Free Agency 2012: Alex Smith Confident Deal Will Get Done

The football world is abuzz about the new free-agent status of superstar Peyton Manning, but the San Francisco 49ers remain adamant that they are sticking with Alex Smith as their starting quarterback. The only small wrinkle there is that Smith is set to become a free agent on March 13. The team is hoping to work out a contract extension before then.

According to Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee, Smith is confident that he and the team will be able to get a deal in place before the free agent market opens on Tuesday. Smith was in Arizona for a charity event on Saturday and Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic relayed some comments from the QB.

Q. Are you disappointed about your contract situation?

AS: "You know, it's going. I'm not disappointed about anything. It kind of is what it is right now. I'm not worried about anything. I'll just leave it at that."

Q. Are you confident that it gets done soon?

AS: "I think so. It's just a process. It takes some time. It will get done."

It seems just a matter of time now before Smith and his team come to an agreement. The only question is how much it will end up costing the 49ers. In the wake of the Mark Sanchez contract extension that was announced on Friday night, the price tag might be higher than initially thought.

For all news and information regarding the San Francisco 49ers, please visit Niners Nation.


NFL Free Agency 2012: Mark Sanchez Contract Extension Will Affect Negotiations With Alex Smith

After a 13-3 finish to the 2011 season and a trip to the playoffs, the San Francisco have made it very clear that they plan on bringing back Alex Smith as their starting quarterback. What has not happened is really any negotiations. However, without having exchanged any numbers, the price tag officially went up for Smith's services on Friday night when it was announced that the New York Jets had extended QB Mark Sanchez' contract an additional three years.

Reportedly, with the terms of his new deal, Sanchez is now set to get paid $60 million over the next five years, with possibly another $10 million in escalators.

Smith earned $5 million in 2011 and is seeking a multi-year deal.

Sanchez completed 56.7 percent of his passes in 2011, throwing for 3474 yards and 26 TDs, but also had 18 INT. He had a passer rating of 78.2

Smith, on the other hand, completed over 61 percent of his throws for 3144 yards, 17 TD and only five picks. His passer rating was 90.7.

Whatever the 49ers were planning on paying Smith, it likely has to go up if they really intend on having him return for an eighth season.

For more Niners info, visit Niners Nation.


Larry Grant Receives Original-Round Tender From San Francisco 49ers

According to CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco, the San Francisco 49ers have placed an original-round tender of around $1.26 million on linebacker Larry Grant, which means another team could likely swoop Grant from the 49ers for a relatively low cost.

The 49ers would be set to receive a seventh-round draft pick as compensation if they decided not to match an offer from another team, but could keep a high-motored team player as well on the cheap if they don't. Grant, 27, was a seventh-round draft pick of the 49ers back in 2008.

Grant proved his worth to the rest of the league back in December after filling in for the injured Patrick Willis for four straight games that Willis missed due to injury. In the Christmas Eve game against the Seattle Seahawks, Grant had 12 tackles and a forced fumble, the best game he had all year. He could soon be doing the same for someone else.

For more discussion and analysis of the 49ers offseason, make sure you head over to Niners Nation to get in on the action.


San Francisco 49ers Sign Will Tukuafu To Two-Year Extension

The San Francisco 49ers featured one of the best defensive units in football last season and they did so while sustaining multiple injuries to various players. While DT Will Tukuafu will not be an impact player on the defensive line, he is capable of seeing some playing time and contributing for Jim Harbaugh. The 49ers signed him to a two-year deal on Thursday.

"Will is a fine example of how hard work and perseverance can pay off," said 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke. "His strong work ethic has allowed him to make significant strides since signing as an undrafted rookie. We look forward to Will's future development."

Tukuafu (6-4, 293) originally joined the 49ers as a free agent on 8/12/10. He spent the majority of his rookie season on the team's practice squad before being added to the active roster for the final two games of the year. Tukuafu made his NFL debut against Seattle (9/11/11) and recorded a fumble recovery on his very first career play from scrimmage. He went on to appear in five games before suffering an injury against the Philadelphia Eagles (10/2/11) that placed him on the Injured Reserve List two days later.

A 27-year old native of Salt Lake City, UT, Tukuafu totaled 131 tackles, 14.5 sacks, five fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles over the final three years of his collegiate career at the University of Oregon. He earned the team's Gonyea Award, given to the team's most inspirational player, as well as the Schaffeld Award given to the team's most outstanding defensive lineman, as a senior.

Tukuafu was an exclusive free agent, meaning he could not negotiate with other teams. San Francisco could have given him a one-year deal and called it a day, so the team apparently must value him enough to hand him an extra year on the deal.

For more on the 49ers, head on over to Niners Nation.


2012 NFL Free Agency: 49ers Must Tender Larry Grant Before Tuesday Deadline

More: 49ers to tender RFA Larry Grant

Larry Grant, a special teams player for the San Francisco 49ers is scheduled to be a restricted free agent. While Grant could return as a backup for the 49ers, he might be highly sought after by other NFL teams due to his performance in the absence of pro-bowler Patrick Willis in December.

Matt Maiocco from Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area explains:

The sides are not negotiating a contract extension, sources said.

The 49ers would have the right of first refusal and receive a seventh-round draft pick as compensation with an "equal-round tender" of approximately $1.26 million for Grant. Or, the 49ers could give Grant a tender of $1.92 million to ensure a second-round pick as compensation if he were to leave.

Some possible destinations for Grant? The Philadelphia Eagles are is one team to throw out there.

For more on the 49ers, head to Niners Nation and for more on the Niners' offseason, follow SB Nation Bay Area's StoryStream


2012 NFL Free Agency: 49ers "Not Going To Rule Out" Signing Randy Moss

The 2012 NFL league year officially kicks off on March 13 when free agency opens. In less than a week, teams will make a mad dash to re-sign their own players that they haven't been able to bring back yet and they'll go after top-of-the-line talent to improve their team for the upcoming season. One of the teams that may make a run to improve themselves by signing a handful of free agents in 2012 is the San Francisco 49ers.

The Niners need another wide receiver to give Alex Smith more targets and one wide receiver that will likely be available is veteran and possible future hall of famer Randy Moss. Moss had a strong workout on Wednesday in New Orleans and according to The Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrow, the 49ers aren't ruling anybody out.

From Niners general manager Trent Baalke:

"Everything's in play. I mean, we're going to take a look at all our options. ... We're not going to rule anybody out."

Of corse, Baalke didn't really say anything here, but the door for Moss to become a 49er isn't necessarily shut either. Needless to say, things are going to get interesting in a week.

For more on the 49ers, head to Niners Nation and for more on the Niners' offseason, follow SB Nation Bay Area's StoryStream.


Alex Smith, 49ers Begin Contract Talks, Have No Interest In Peyton Manning According to Report

According to CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco the San Francisco 49ers have an 'offer on the table' to keep quarterback Alex Smith in the Bay Area for the foreseeable future, an apparently have no interest in pursuing recently released quarterback Peyton Manning.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh hasn't quelled his strong feelings for Alex Smith since arriving with the Niners, almost a 'bromance' if you will, stating multiple times that 'he's our guy' going forward. San Francisco would like to lock him up for a long-term deal, according to a source close to the situation.

Smith, 28, is coming off his best season as a pro, leading the 49ers to a 13-3 record and the NFC Championship game. Manning, 36, missed the entire 2011 season with his surgically repaired neck, and it still isn't 100 percent clear just where his health is heading into the season.

One interesting thing of note is that agent Tom Condon represents both Alex Smith and Peyton Manning, though likely won't have much sway on the matter.

Editor's Note: SB Nation's Brad Wells discussed potential destinations for Peyton Manning and it is interesting to note he made no reference to the 49ers. The team seems pretty set on keeping Alex Smith, but much of the chatter has been how good a fit Manning is for the improving 49ers. Here is what Brad had to say:

For more on the 49ers, head over to Niners Nation.


NFL Free Agents 2012: 49ers Could Target Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson

NFL free agency begins at 1:00pm PT on March 13, and the San Francisco 49ers will enter the period with a sizable amount of salary cap space. They still have to figure out a contract for Alex Smith, but even with a deal for Smith, they should be able to be a sizable player in the market.

The most frequent discussion surrounding the 49ers is the fact that they are in need of wide receivers. It is a fact because they only have three on the roster, which means they are going to add receivers in some form or fashion, be it free agency or the draft. There is a lot of talent in both pools and the 49ers will have to figure out how best to utilize their resources.

According to Matt Maiocco, the 49ers will target both Chargers unrestricted free agent Vincent Jackson and Steelers restricted free agent Mike Wallace. The 49ers have set a price for each and are not expected to get into any sort of bidding war.

Of the two players, it would seem Wallace is the most likely for the 49ers to sign. If they have set a price on each player, they know that a Wallace signing will require a very specific minimum first year salary cap figure. The Pittsburgh Steelers have only so much cap space and a deal with a first year cap hit of approximately $11M to $12M might be too much for them.

Such a cap hit does not mean the entire deal will average that much per season. Rather, that would factor in base salary and the proration of the salary cap for year one. They could frontload the contract to price out the Steelers and then make it much more cap friendly in subsequent years.


49ers Offseason: Jerry Rice Thinks The 49ers Should Pursue Peyton Manning

Seemed inevitable that the San Francisco 49ers would get thrown into the Peyton Manning mix by someone, somewhere, since almost every team in the league that doesn't have an elite quarterback in place already has been thrown into the mix.

It's just interesting that that person happens to be the great Jerry Rice.

According to Ron Kroichick's twitter account, Rice thinks that the Niners should pursue Manning if he indeed becomes a free agent.

"I think you go for it, I really do. You have to go after him."

But Manning wasn't the only topic of discussion for the Niners great about the current Niners. He fittingly had comments about one of the team's current wide receivers, Michael Crabtree.

"I thought he was going to be more productive. I just did not see spearation (from DBs). Maybe he needs to work on that. Maybe he needs to lose 10 pounds and be more explosive."

Strong words from the greatest receiver of all-time. But when Rice speaks, the Bay Area listens.


NFL Free Agents 2012: Stevie Johnson On Verge Of Long-Term Deal With Bills, According To Report

If the San Francsico 49ers have one glaring deficiency to address leading up to the 2012 season, it is at the wide receiver position. Many analysts expect the Niners to look to the 2012 NFL Draft to shore up their ranks at wideout, but it was not out of the question that San Francisco would shop the free agent market for some assistance. Now it appears as though one potential free agent wide receiver will soon be out of the mix.

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Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Buffalo Bills are on the verge of signing a contract extension with their top wide receiver, Stevie Johnson. The deal is reportedly for five years and may be completed within the next 24 hours. The Bills were hoping to come to an agreement with Johnson before the March 5 deadline to apply the franchise tag to players. It looks like they will come in just under the wire and avoid having to place the tag on the WR.

Johnson has been with the Bills since he was drafted by the team in 2008. He has 170 receptions and 2,189 receiving yards, as well as 19 career receiving touchdowns.

The 49ers had been mentioned as potential suitors for Johnson, would he have hit the open market when free agency begins on March 13. It looks like they will not be getting the opportunity.

For all news and information regarding the San Francisco 49ers, please visit Niners Nation. For updates and perspective on the Buffalo Bills, head on over to Buffalo Rumblings.


49ers Place Franchise Tag On Dashon Goldson

After weeks of speculation turned into a few days of near certainty, the 49ers finally made it official. The team announced Friday morning that they have placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on safety Dashon Goldson. The tag allows Goldson to negotiate with other teams, but if he agrees to terms with a new team, the 49ers have a right to match the contract. If the 49ers elect not to match the contract, they would receive two first round picks as compensation.

49ers GM Trent Baalke released a statement with the news:

"Dashon has been a 49er since we selected him in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. By using the franchise tag on Dashon, it affords us the opportunity to continue to work on a long-term contract with him, while also ensuring he will be a 49er for a sixth season, in 2012."

If the two sides are unable to come to terms on a long term contract this offseason, Goldson would sign the tender and receive approximately $6.2 million for the 2012 season. Goldson could conceivably hold out if he is not happy with the way negotiations go, but he has not indicated any displeasure with the idea of being franchised.

In 2011, Goldson (6-2, 200) earned his first Pro Bowl selection as he recorded a career-high six interceptions, which ranked tied for first on the team and second in the NFL among safeties. He also added 80 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and nine passes defensed.

Goldson was originally selected by the 49ers in the fourth round (126th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft. He has played in 65 games (48 starts) for San Francisco, registering 334 tackles, 11 interceptions, three sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 24 passes defensed. Goldson has started all 46 games in which he's appeared over the past three seasons and his 11 interceptions are the most by a 49er since 2007.


Dashon Goldson To Receive Franchise Tag From 49ers, According to Report

According to multiple sources including CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco the San Francisco 49ers will use their franchise tag on safety Dashon Goldson, with the team possibly making it official on Friday.

Goldson will make around $6.2 million in 2012 on this one-year deal. The Niners ultimately decided on Goldson instead of cornerback Carlos Rogers who's franchise tag would come at around $10.6 million for one year.

The team was looking at trying to sign Goldson to a long-term deal, who recently fired super agent Drew Rosenhaus and moved over to CAA sports to represent him. Maiocco also noted that it was never an option to try and tag Alex Smith, who's tag price would have been upwards of $14 million.

Goldson finished up the 2011 season with 67 tackles, six interceptions and a forced fumble.

For more news and notes on the 49ers offseason, make sure you head over to Niners Nation to get in on the action.


Ahmad Brooks Contract: 49ers Salary Cap Hit Fairly Low For 2012

Tuesday morning the San Francisco 49ers came to terms on a contract extension with outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks that could keep him in town for six years. The deal was publicized as six years, $44.5 million. The initial reaction was one of surprise at the size of the deal, as well as concern about the potential salary cap impact. Based on Matt Maiocco's report, the 49ers have maintained financial responsibility in retaining one of their key contributors.

Sources reported to Maiocco that the contract is actually a six year contract worth $37 million, with escalators and incentives that if maxed out would push the deal to $44.5 million. The deal includes a $7.5 million signing bonus, which gets prorated over the life of the contract for salary cap purposes. According to Maiocco, the future cap figures break down as follows:

2012: $2.85M
2013: $6.65M
2014: $7.5M
2015: $8.35M
2016: $6.35M
2017: $5.3M

This covers base salaries, the signing bonus proration and roster bonuses of $50,000 for every game he is active in the regular season. Those roster bonuses would add up to $800,000 each season. This protects them to a modest extent from potential injuries. Of course, one reason they extended such a lengthy extension is his ability to stay healthy in 2011.


Ahmad Brooks Talks Winning With 49ers, His Wild Ride To San Francisco

The San Francisco 49ers retained a big piece of their defensive unit on Tuesday when they re-signed OLB Ahmad Brooks to a six-year, $44.5 million dollar deal. While this is certainly a big commitment for the 49ers -- more than $17 million of that money is guaranteed -- Brooks should continue to thrive alongside Aldon Smith and Parys Haralson. With the team just a month removed from nearly making the Super Bowl, why change things up?

Brooks met with the media after signing with San Francisco and discussed a wide variety of topics. The guys over at Niners Nation have a transcript of the conference call and provide us with a bit of the Q&A.

On the recent success of the team and if it had any impact on him wanting to stay with the 49ers:

"Yeah, most definitely. I've been in the NFL for a while now and I see the business side of it, but I also see a football player's perspective. And it's been a long journey for myself to put myself in the situation as a starter and not just that, but also making it to the playoffs. We had a lot of fun last year just winning. And everybody had fun from the owners to the managers, the equipment guys, everybody. And everybody was just excited. And the more games you win, the more exciting and the more fun it would be going out there to practice and play a game."

On his journey throughout the NFL and how some bad things help lead to better opportunities:

"Coming into the NFL as a young player, you get paid a certain amount of money that you've never seen before. So, I can see young guys coming into the NFL and doing things that they shouldn't do, or just enjoying themselves. And when you enjoy yourself you may enjoy yourself a little bit too much to where it can affect your performance. And I think that early on in my career that's what may have happened to me.

And once I got cut by the Bengals I just pretty much told myself that I would never let this happen again. Regardless of what goes on in my life, I will never let this happen again. So, I just pretty much had to re-evaluate myself as a player, as a person, to become the best person, and the best football player, that I could be because it's not going to last forever. And then once you retire from the game, once the NFL says "No" to you, we don't want you to play anymore, then you want to go out knowing that you did all that you could do to be the best that you could be. And that's where I'm at with myself."

And, finally, Brooks talks about what ultimately led him to re-signing with the team and why he did not get too involved with the free agency process:

"I don't know. Just something was telling me to sign here. I feel like this is where I should be. These are the people that gave me a chance to go out there and get this contract. From the time I got into the NFL I felt like I should have been starting. And coaches were always giving me an excuse like, ‘well he doesn't know the defense, he can't learn the defense.' That's a lie. That's always been a lie. We practice the same things every day. How can I not remember what I practiced every day? I'm just happy to get this chance at just having a coaching staff that believed in me to go out there and showcase my talent. So, that also plays a big part in that."

This signing seems like a great fit for all parties involved and fans can only hope Brooks continues to be a force on the defensive side of the ball. With quite a few young players involved in the front-seven next season, it will be very beneficial to coach Harbaugh and the coaching staff to have a proven veteran like Ahmad Brooks on the roster.

To discuss the signing with other fans and for all things 49ers, head on over to Niners Nation.


San Francisco 49ers Offseason: Carlos Rogers Talks Ahmad Brooks Signing

The San Francisco 49ers are going to have to start making some tough decisions soon. With Ahmad Brooks lined up, the discussion turns to who San Francisco should sign next. One such target? Free agent cornerback Carlos Rogers.

Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group reports on an interview Rogers did with SiriusXM NFL Radio.

"I’m hoping we get somthing done so I don’t test free agency," Rogers told SiriusXM NFL Radio this afternoon.

If the 49ers can’t reach a long-term contract with Rogers, they could put the franchise tag on him, although that $10.6 million mark is considerably higher than using it on another free agent, such as safety Dashon Goldson.

Rogers came to the 49ers on a one-year, $4.25 million deal last season and garnered his first Pro Bowl berth. "As cornerbacks, we know our market value," said Rogers, who then listed off his Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro credentials.

"(The 49ers) is where my heart is at. They want me back. It’s a business, both for them and me. Hopefully we get something worked out."

The 49ers had around $30-35 million in cap space before the extension for CJ Spillman and the deal for Brooks.

The issue with Rogers comes with the franchise tag, which is probably what the cornerback desires. But San Francisco seems to want to franchise safety Dashon Goldson for his outstanding season. It's worth noting the CB franchise tender is around $9M while the safety franchise tender is $6.2M, so it's much easier to retain Goldson.

If 49ers think that their secondary success was a byproduct of their front seven, it makes sense to lock up Brooks and return the unit, and figure they can add someone at corner or go with their younger guys and let Rogers walk. With San Francisco also needing to make deals for quarterback Alex Smith and Goldson and the team also likely to release Shawntae Spencer to free up $3 mil in cap room, it'll be interesting to see how far San Francisco fights to keep Rogers.

To discuss Rogers, Brooks and the 49ers, head on over to Niners Nation.


Ahmad Brooks Transcript: 49ers OLB Excited About Defense

Tuesday afternoon, the 49ers and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks came to terms on a new six year contract that will keep him with the team through 2017. Brooks moved into the starting lineup in 2011 and displayed a strong range of skills as he became an every-down outside linebacker for the first time in his career. Previously Brooks had been utilized primarily as a pass rush specialist, and seemed to resent the lack of further opportunities. Brooks spoke with the media after signing his new contract and addressed that issue:

From the time I got to the NFL, I felt like I should have been starting and coaches would always be giving me an excuses, like, ‘He doesn' t know the defense. He can't learn the defense.' That's a lie. That's always been a lie. We practice the same thing everyday; how can I not remember what I practice every day. I'm happy to get this chance and have a coaching staff that believes in me to go out there and showcase my talents.

Brooks was given the opportunity and ran with it, creating one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman need know further praise at this point as they were dominant on the inside. Opposite Brooks, Parys Haralson and Aldon Smith worked in tandem to create a dynamic presence at the other outside linebacker position. Haralson handled rushing downs while Smith came in when the team switched to their nickel. Smith is expected to take over the starting role opposite Brooks, leaving Haralson potentially looking for a new job.

Although Brooks will make plenty of money during the course of the contract, he explained that part of the reason he re-signed now instead of testing free agency was the dynamic defense of which he was a part. The 49ers are a team that will win games and give players a chance for postseason glory, and that counts for something in negotiations. Add in playing with this dynamic linebacker corps and it makes further sense:

What does it mean to be part of that linebacker corps?

"It means a lot. NaVarro and Pat are two great inside linebackers and they complement each other well. I'm glad to be on outside of them playing with them. We'll be a great defense for a long time, as long as we continue to draft guys like Aldon and NaVarro. The defense will be the best in the NFL."


NFL Free Agency 2012: OLB Ahmad Brooks Re-Signs With 49ers

It is now official. Free-agent-to-be outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks is back with the San Francisco 49ers, signing a 6-year, $44.5 million deal with $17.5 million guaranteed, according to various reports including this tweet from the Mercury News' Cam Inman.

It was stated earlier that the Niners were in deep talks with Brooks about a deal but that deal was said to be in the range of five years, $35 million. Kudos to his agent for making sure that that wasn't the case as his deal is a year longer and $9.5 million richer. The $17.5 million guaranteed is the big part but the tricky part is still to come for the Niners.

Brooks can pretty much be penciled in as one of the starters with a contract like that so that leaves Aldon Smith ad Parys Haralson to go into camp knowing that they'll be competing against one another for that other spot. It's a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

May the best man win, and may Brooks pay for the winner's dinner.


NFL Free Agency 2012: 49ers Deep In Talks with OLB Ahmad Brooks

According to a tweet from NFL.com's Jason LaCanfora, the San Francisco 49ers are in deep talks with linebacker Ahmad Brooks about a deal that could be in the range of five years, $35 million.

The 49ers have a bit of a problem, but it's a problem worth having. They have three outside linebackers with significant talent who contributed mightily to their stout defense a year ago in Brooks, Aldon Smith and Parys Haralson. If the Brooks deal goes through, that could mean Brooks is in line for one of the two starting spots while Smith and Haralson will battle it out for the other starting gig.

Smith is the wild card. If Smith can show significant improvement in picking up coverage and other responsibilities, he could be on the other side of Brooks with Haralson providing depth. If not, then it's up in the air on how the 49ers will proceed.

Either way, it's a good sign to see Brooks this deep in talks.

For more on Brooks' possible contract, check here.


2012 NFL Combine: Mohamed Sanu, Rueben Randle Among 49ers Meetings

The annual NFL Combine provides an opportunity for draft prospects to strut their stuff in an event often called the underwear Olympics. Draft stock can rise and fall with a given 40-yard dash time or under or oversized hands, or even simply being an inch shorter than people expected.

The Combine provides a potentially greater opportunity for the 32 NFL teams. Each team has scouts, coaches and personnel executives on hand to assess the physical skills of the players. However, they also get a chance to set up meetings with a variety of prospects. Teams will meet with numerous players over the next two months leading up to the draft, but the Combine is the one time all the top prospects and all the teams are in the same place at the same time.

According to @49ers, the team has already met with Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu and will meet with LSU WR Rueben Randle Saturday evening. The 49ers are in the market for wide receivers and the draft and free agency provide a whole host of options. While they may not draft somebody in the first round, these meetings give them a chance to assess the players in a one-on-one setting.

Teams have plenty of film of these players and get all the measurement and workout numbers from the Combine, but meeting one-on-one with a player can provide them with a better idea of what the players bring to the table from a mental standpoint. The 49ers built so much around being a cohesive unit that what a prospect has to say could be a difference-maker when comparing comparable skill-sets.


NFL Free Agents 2012: C.J. Spillman, 49ers, Agree to New Three-Year, $6 Million Contract

The San Francisco 49ers aren't wasting any time when it comes to re-signing key personel as it was announced on Friday that the team and restricted free agent defensive back C.J. Spillman have come to terms on a new three-year contract worth $6 million according to CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco.

Spillman made 18 tackles for San Francisco in 2011, but was also one of the best special-teams players on the team Spillman's role as a backup safety is also very important as well, as he shined as part of the 49ers' goal-line package last season.

Spillman's tackle of Baltimore's Ray Rice during their Thanksgiving day meeting with the Niners was easily his best of the year, pushing Rice back for a 4-yard loss on a second-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The play continued the then streak of no rushing touchdowns allowed by the 49ers.

For more news and notes from the 49ers offseason, make sure you head over to Niners Nation to get in on the action. For more on the League in general, head over to SB Nation's dedicated NFL hub.

Jim Harbaugh Definitely Sticking With Alex Smith, But Still Has High Praise For Andrew Luck

Jim Harbaugh loves his quarterbacks. During the offseason, after becoming the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers but before the lockout ended, Harbaugh showered Alex Smith with more praise than he's ever received in the NFL. Harbaugh sounded like a man publicly trying to court Smith, even though it was all probably unnecessary. Smith ended up signing, and the two have a good bond these days.

That doesn't mean he's about to forget his old quarterbacks, though. He's spoken fondly of others to play under him, like Tampa Bay's Josh Johnson. At the scouting combine, Harbaugh had some choice words about Andrew Luck, quarterback out of Stanford and potential 2012 draftee.

"Potential 2012 draftee," is somewhat of a misnomer because Luck is certainly going to get drafted and almost certainly will be drafted with the first overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts. Luck is a player that Harbaugh would certainly love to get his hands on, despite his steady relationship with Alex Smith. It's not going to happen, of course, and it's very clear that Harbaugh is legitimate in his confidence in Smith. Still, there's a lot of praise to be had, as noted yesterday:

All great. Like I said, he's one of the finest football players I've ever been around. Is that good enough? And an even better person. One of the top 5 guys I've been around. So he's just a joy to coach. Not going to like playing against him. Not looking forward to that.

Harbaugh seemed like he wanted to focus on other things, but can still only offer high praise for Luck. At any rate, it looks like the future of the 49ers quaterback position lies in Alex Smith and, potentially, Colin Kaepernick. Nice to see the coach can continue looking at and compliments other players, even if they stand no chance to play in a 49ers uniform. After all, getting Luck would require, you know, multiple first-round picks, a couple second- and third-round picks and, of course, a player or two. So there's that.


49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh Discusses Alex Smith, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III At NFL Combine

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh took to the podium at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis Thursday afternoon, discussing a number of topics including re-signing quarterback Alex Smith, seeing some players at the combine, and even reuniting with some of his former Stanford players, just not Andrew Luck (unfortunately).

Harbaugh noted that he's 'lost sleep' over not having Smith signed already, and was steadfast on the notion that he is their choice at signal caller moving forward:

"Alex is our guy," Harbaugh said. "That's well documented. He had a tremendous season. Definitely as a coach you worry about a lot of things. When a quarterback is not signed and is a free agent, leads to lost sleep."

As for his improvement, Coach Harbaugh feels that Alex will flourish even more in his second year under the Harbaugh regime:

"The most improvement you can make is form Year 1 to Year 2," Harbaugh said. "Much like a college freshman, the most improvement he can make is that entire one year of college football, going from Year 1 freshman year to his sophomore year. Like a pro football player going from his rookie season to his second season. There's a window there that will never come again, you have a chance to make your biggest stride."

Harbaugh also touched on Andrew Luck, stating that he is still the best QB he's ever worked with (sorry Alex). But the 49ers won't be setting up a reunion between the two:

"Not going to like playing against him. Not looking forward to that."

As for players he's coached, Harbaugh mentioned he'd like to reunite with some of them, but because of his relationships notes that he may have a slightly tilted view of them:

"I have so much history with them, from recruiting them to practice and games and spending every day for four years with those guys," Harbaugh said. "In some ways, I don't know if I'm under-evaluating them or over-evaluating them."

Coach was also asked about Robert Griffin III, who he tried to recruit to Palo Alto to play for the Card:

"I can't wait to find out why they didn't come to Stanford," Harbaugh said, laughing.

For more on the 49ers, head over to Niners Nation.


NFL Free Agents 2012: Mike Wallace Could See Himself A San Francisco 49er

Free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace had an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Adam Schein and Rich Gannon on Wednesday, and talked about some of the possible destinations he might land in if he indeed leaves the Pittsburgh Steelers for greener pasturers. One of those landing spots he spoke of just so happened to be the San Francisco 49ers, a place where he can see himself playing in the future.

Wallace was asked about joining a contender from either division in the 49ers or New England Patriots, and said he would be happy to play for either one:

"Most definitely. Those are two playoff caliber, Super Bowl caliber teams. All those teams need are that one more piece of the puzzle to put them over the top...I wouldn't want to go anywhere and leave the situation I'm at, with a great quarterback and a great organization, and go someplace where I don't feel I can compete (for a championship)"

Wallace also noted that the desire 'to get my money' is a large deciding factor on where he'll end up, as well as the team's quarterback. And, of course, winning championships:

"You don't want to leave a team like the Steelers and not win. I don't want to go to a team and just win two games. A quarterback...I don't care how good you are, you aren't going to be good if you don't have a good quarterback."

It will be tough for the Steelers to put up around the $8 million a year that Wallace will likely be after, meaning it looks like whoever has the most money and a decent organization will win the services of one of the top receivers in the game today.

For more on the 49ers, head over to Niners Nation. For more on the League in general, check out SB Nation's dedicated NFL hub.


Stanford Routt Signs With Chiefs: Impact On 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers have some big decisions to make with their group of free agents. They've got two defensive starters, a couple offensive starters, some key backups and multiple core special teams players with expiring contracts. More than anything, they'll need to focus on cornerback Carlos Rogers and safety Dashon Goldson.

There's plenty of options available, but that doesn't necesarrily make getting a deal done easier. They've got the option of the franchise tag, with Goldson costing just over $6 million and Rogers costing just over $10 million on those deals, respectively. More than likely, the 49ers will try and get them all signed to long-term contracts, and some pertinent news has changed the landscape of a potential deal with Rogers.

Over in Kansas City, the Chiefs signed cornerback Stanford Routt to a new deal, which means that Brandon Carr is set to hit free agency and is unlikely to be brought back. Even though this writer thinks Rogers is a much better corner, most teams believe Carr is more of a sure-thing and he could be the big-name free agent out there.

If it was down to Rogers and Routt, teams would likely try to get Rogers inked to a deal, making it harder to get things done for the 49ers. With Carr out there, the 49ers have a better chance to sign Rogers, but it also opens up the dynamic that San Francisco, you know, go after Carr. The cornerback market (along with the wide receiver market) are going to be intensely interesting once free agency begins, and the 49ers certainly have their options.


NFL Free Agents 2012: 49ers Look To Franchise Dashon Goldson Or Carlos Rogers

Monday marks the first day that NFL teams are able to apply a franchise tag to their players. Teams will have until free agency begins on March 13 to determine whether they will apply the tag to an impending free agent in order to prevent them potentially departing until after the 2012 season.

Gregg Rosenthal at NBC Sports posted a column regarding which players are most likely to receive the franchise tag from their current team. In his estimation, the San Francisco 49ers would do well to apply the tag to their talented safety Dashon Goldson.

The cornerback tag costs too much for a 31-year-old like Carlos Rogers. Linebacker Ahmad Brooks is a solid player, but not worth it. Tagging Goldson is the best move.

With a large portion of their key players already locked up through the coming season, the 49ers are lucky, in that the franchise tag decision will not be too much of a headache.

For all news and information regarding the San Francisco 49ers, please visit Niners Nation.


2012 NFL Free Agency: Steve Johnson A Good Fit For 49ers?

Free agency is set to open in less than a month and it's no big secret that the 49ers could use some help at the wide receiver position. The team had the 29th-ranked passing offense through the regular season and Michael Crabtree was the team's leading receiver with only 874 yards (33rd in the league). The team could use another outside threat for quarterback Alex Smith to utilize and that could free up tight end Vernon Davis a little more as well.

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco believes the 49ers could benefit from a free agent signing of Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson.

They have to get better in the passing game. Michael Crabtree hasn't been as good as expected, so it's time to add another threat outside.

Johnson is coming off two straight 1,000-yard seasons and could be a major shot in the arm for the Niners' passing attack. He has scored 17 touchdowns over the last two seasons and could become the No. 1 receiver if he were to be signed by San Francisco.

With all the attention on DeSean Jackson and with the news that both Randy Moss and Terrell Owens are looking for new teams, Johnson could fly under the radar in free agency.

For more on the 49ers, head to Niners Nation.


NFL Draft 2012: San Francisco 49ers And Rueben Randle A Good Fit, According To Mike Mayock

The San Francisco 49ers know that their biggest target this offseason is probably a wide receiver. The receivers they have are probably inadequate to maintain a serious offense, and they'll definitely need someone else out there from the draft.

Matt Mayock has someone in mind.

Randle is ranked 4th among Mayock's receivers, and could be a value bet late in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Is he the typical fit for the Niners? Who knows, but he does fit the mold of a typical athletic receiver that can really provide another complimentary figure on the outside. It probably won't be the number one option the Niners covet, but Randle can be plenty useful for San Francisco.

To talk about the thought of Randle and the 49ers, check out Niners Nation. To learn more about Randle and LSU, go to And The Valley Shook. Talk about the NFL Draft at Mocking the Draft.


Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman Among Best Linebackers In The League

We'll continue our look at the San Francisco 49ers and their various positional units today with a look at the inside linebackers. Effectively, the 49ers had three inside linebackers, as the other two on the roster were core special teamers, more than anything. Needless to say, the 49ers are set in this regard moving forward, though they may need another backup, as last year's option may be in line for a bigger contract and a bigger role elsewhere. Let's get to it.

Patrick Willis is, well, Patrick Willis, ya know? Great linebackers nowadays should always have the caveat "Well, they're no Patrick Willis, but ..." any time you're grading them out. Willis is just so good at everything on the football field, and is without a doubt the best inside linebacker in the NFL today. He's incredibly strong, fast enough to catch most players in the league and when he's not, will take the smartest angles of any other player to cover the distance. He's a hard-hitting tackler and he's great in coverage, suffering his only lapses in that regard when he was beaten by Jimmy Graham going for a jump ball when the 49ers played the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs. A+

NaVorro Bowman can be mistaken for Patrick Willis at times, which is really enough to give him a very solid grade. After looking abysmal in his limited time his rookie season, Bowman was thrust into the starting role as Takeo Spikes left for free agency, and he performed better than most figured he could this quickly. He was a hard-hitter, which wasn't expected, and showed he potentially had better range than Willis. His angles weren't quite as refined, but there were multiple folks saying that they could't tell if it was Willis or Bowman that made a certain tackle. Not only do the 49ers have the best group of inside linebackers, they have the No. 1 and No. 2 inside linebackers in the league. A+

Larry Grant surprised most people, but there were plenty who also knew that he could be great if given some playing time. It just so happens that Willis had to miss a few games, so Grant was pressed into action. There was almost no difference for the first couple games - Grant played out of his mind. He knocked down multiple passes and was mauling running backs in the backfield. He's not quite as fast as a lot of inside linebackers, but he's a sure tackler. As he got more and more time, he started making mistakes and it was clear he needed more time to really get into a groove, but isn't that what you want out of a backup? A guy who can come in and just play incredibly well? Unfortunately, it likely means Grant will get a good offer to potentially start somewhere else. Grading him relative to a backup. A-

Blake Costanzo was a special teamer and nothing else, but he was possibly the best special teamer the 49ers have had in a very long time, which is saying something given some of the players they've had in recent years. He's fast, strong, a sure tackler and very smart - he could probably be a decent backup at inside linebacker if it all came down to it. But he's not going to get a grade as an inside linebacker.

Tavares Gooden did not see the field much on defense, but was a core special teamer. He got the hang of things in that regard as the season went on, but again, did not factor into things as an inside linebacker. No grade.

Overall: A+


DeSean Jackson To San Francisco 49ers Not Likely To Happen

Almost everyone everywhere knows that the San Francisco 49ers need to upgrade at wide receiver. Their performance wasn't good enough in the playoffs to get them to the Super Bowl, and the receivers the Niners currently have probably won't be enough to win games in the future.

So what about DeSean Jackson? Jackson seemed to be coming off a tumultuous season with the Philadelphia Eagles where he struggled with inconsistency, a tough contract situation, and character concerns.

However, DeSean becoming a 49er in 2012 seems to be very unlikely at this point. Jeff McLane has this report.

The Eagles are going to franchise DeSean Jackson, count on it.

They will not let their Pro Bowl receiver - whose contract is set to expire - walk without getting something in return, according to NFL sources.

So that means the Eagles will do one of three things before March 5:

They will franchise Jackson and keep him for the 2012 season.

They will franchise and then trade him.

Or they will agree to a contract extension with the 25-year-old, an unlikely proposition at this point.

It makes sense that the Eagles aren't willing to part with their asset for nothing. DeSean is too much of a gamechanger to let him go and hope he doesn't end up burning you in the long-run. Jackson should be retained if at all possible.

Besides, there's no guarantee San Francisco would want DeSean even if he was available.

To talk about DeSean and the 49ers, head on over to Niners Nation. To discuss DeSean and the Eagles, check out Bleeding Green Nation.


49ers Deny Buccaneers Permission To Interview Ed Donatell

The San Francisco 49ers have a leg up on a hefty number of NFL teams who are trying to fill holes in their coaching and front office staffs during the offseason. It appears, however, that members of the Niners staff may be coveted by some of these depleted teams. For their part, the Niners seem intent on keeping their complete team together for 2012.

Eric Branch of SFGate reports that the 49ers denied the Tampa Bay Buccaneers permission to interview secondary coach Ed Donatell. The Buccaneers were hoping to speak to Donatell about their vacant defensive coordinator position.

Although 49ers offensive assistant Bobby Engram departed following the playoffs to become the wide receivers coach at the University of Pittsburgh, Jim Harbaugh has gone on record as saying that he wants to keep his current coaching staff intact. It appears the San Francisco front office is trying to make sure that happens.

For all news and information regarding the San Francisco 49ers, please visit Niners Nation. For updates and perspective on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, head on over to Bucs Nation.


San Francisco 49ers Grades: Alex Smith And The Other Quarterbacks

The San Francisco 49ers have received high marks for their tight ends, offensive line, running backs and defensive line. For the offense, only one position remains, and it's going to be a controversial one, to be sure. We're next going to take a look at the quarterback position, led by Alex Smith, with backup Colin Kaepernick and third-stringer Scott Tolzien. Let's just get right into the grades.

Alex Smith had a very solid season by anybody's standards, which wasn't altogether unexpected. Smith has generally been that quarterback that doesn't make mistakes, but who can't necessarily win you a football game on his own. Up until this season, he's fallen short of every expectation had of him, and has been labeled a huge bust, despite solid numbers the past few seasons. Still, even with the positive signs, there wasn't much expectation for Smith heading into this season by realists.

As it turns out, Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman were able to do exactly what they said they were going to: maximize his skill-set and use him the best way they possibly can. They did that, with Smith completing the fewest turnovers by all quarterbacks not named Aaron Rodgers, and coming just short of setting a franchise record for passing attempts without an interception at the end of the season. Smith rallied the 49ers to six fourth-quarter comebacks and led them on two huge 85-yard drives to beat the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs.

Of course, there's a lot he can improve upon. His awareness is not totally there, and if it his, he's still reluctant to pull the trigger. Smith threw some very pretty passes this season, but he often waited far too long and never threw his receivers open. There were plenty of times when Smith had a receiver open enough to pull the trigger and he hesitated or went underneath. It's an issue that he needs to correct. Maybe Jim Harbaugh can work with him on that.

In all, Smith had a very good season, his best to date, and earned the starting role heading into next season. He's not a leash-less franchise quarterback who can throw together four or five bad games and expect to be secure in his job in 2012, but he's the guy who should get the full amount of work in the offseason and start in week one, barring some huge setbacks. B+

Colin Kaepernick is progressing, but didn't see the field more than a couple times this past season. He was drafted early and might be the quarterback of the future, but we won't know much about him or what the 49ers really have in him until he gets a full offseason of work with Harbaugh and all of the coaching staff. Expect Kaepernick to not officially compete with Smith in training camp and preseason, but the best thing he can do is show the coaches that he can compete, and be ready in the event of a Smith injury or slip-up.

Scott Tolzien did not dress, but was chosen over Josh McCown to be the third-string quarterback. He had a solid preseason with the San Diego Chargers and will have a full offseason with the 49ers to show his stuff. There's actually quite a bit of upside there.

Overall: B+ Since there's only one quarterback to really go by, it has to be a B+


49ers Extend GM Trent Baalke's Contract

The 49ers have signed General Manager Trent Baalke to a three-year contract extension Friday after his first year as the team's GM, locking him up through 2016. Baalke has been with the team for seven seasons, first serving as a regional scout, then as Director of Player Personnel from 2008-2009, then Vice President of Player Personnel in 2010. He was named General Manager on January 4, 2011 and between a draft class and a collection of free agents, Baalke signed 24 players beginning July that would remain on the team's 53-man roster the entire year. Three of those signees - K David Akers, FS Dashon Goldson and CB Carlos Rogers - earned Pro Bowl selections, while five others were named Pro Bowl alternates - special teamer Blake Costanzo, C Jonathan Goodwin, DT Ray McDonald, FB Bruce Miller and SS Donte Whitner. In all, 12 of those 24 players logged starts for the 49ers in 2011.

Jed York announced the news on Twitter, adding that Gideon Yu has also been promoted to president after one season as the team's Chief Strategy Officer. Yu is a 1% owner of the team as well:

York added that, apparently, the talks were easy:

In a press release, York had this to say about his team's GM:

"This is a wonderful day for Trent, his family and the 49ers organization. Without question Trent has distinguished himself as the man to direct our football operations for years to come. Since taking over as General Manager last January, we have made great strides on the football field under Trent's leadership. It gives me great pleasure to watch Trent and Jim work arm-in-arm with the common goal of leading the 49ers to championships."

Baalke also had a statement, saying, "I would like to thank Jed, and the York family, for this great opportunity and show of support. In addition, I would like to thank Coach Harbaugh, as well as our coaches, players, scouts, and entire football operations staff for their hard work and dedication this season. The success we experienced on the field was a direct result of their efforts. It is a privilege to work for the 49ers organization, alongside this group, as we continue our pursuit of championships."

For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation.


49ers Ray McDonald Arrested On Outstanding Warrant, Released

San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald was arrested early Wednesday morning for an outstanding warrant stemming from his 2010 suspicion of DUI charges.


2012 NFL Draft: 49ers Not Expected To Receive Any Compensatory Picks

It doesn't come as much surprise, but the San Francisco 49ers aren't likely to gain any compensatory draft picks this offseason. As Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area points out, the 49ers had an even number of gains and losses in free agency this past season. Teams are awarded compensatory draft picks when they have net losses in free agency, but it only applies to players who hit the scheduled free agency, and not when they are released.

This means that Nate Clements don't count as losses, and Madieu Williams, Larry Grant and Blake Costanzo don't count as gains. Last season, the 49ers saw some key contributors go, but seemed to get a much better return on their free agents, so there's really no argument for a loss, even if the numbers weren't even. Aubrayo Franklin was the best to go, but Isaac Sopoaga filled in for him well. Manny Lawson, David Baas, Takeo Spikes and Travis LaBoy all left.

As it happens, the 49ers only replaced Baas through free agency, getting Jonathan Goodwin, who was very solid for them this past season. Carlos Rogers, Donte Whitner, David Akers and Braylon Edwards were the other gains, and aside from Edwards, they all had something like career years for the 49ers.

Compensatory draft picks are just a bonus, really - something that teams just hope to hit on. San Francisco has had some luck in that regard, especially on the defensive line, where they got Ricky Jean Francois and Ray McDonald - a versatile backup and a starter at left defensive end, respectively.


49ers Grades: Bright Spots Few And Far Between With 49ers Wide Receivers

Continuing our offseason grades of the San Francisco 49ers position-by-position, we'll next take a look at the wide receiver position. Unfortunately, it was one of the weakest positions on the team and didn't inspire anything close to confidence on offense. It's pretty clear that the 49ers need to pursue some options in the 2012 NFL Draft or free agency, because these guys won't get it done. It's not all bad, though - so let's get to the grades.

Michael Crabtree performed well, and finally looked like a positive contribution to the offense. He was a force with the ball in his hands and did all he could to make the catch. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Crabtree is going to be a No. 1 receiver in the future. He struggles with top-level corners and is prone to disappear for long periods of time. Still, he had over 800 yards on the season and in an offense that's more confident in its own ability, Crabtree could flourish. B

Josh Morgan looked like he was on his way to a 1,000-yard season before going down with an injury. The most frustrating part about the injury was that it came late in a game that was well in-hand. Either way, Morgan looked really good, especially running slants, and if the 49ers bring him back, he could be a big factor in the offense in 2012. It's hard to grade him based on limited time. B

Ted Ginn Jr. was a valuable return man, so much so that the 49ers fell apart in the postseason when Ginn was out with an injury. Still, he didn't do much on offense throughout the season. The 49ers can't claim to have a great group of receivers when Ginn can be the No. 2 guy. In all fairness to him, he's improved his hands by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, he's unable to run crisp routes and really get open. D

Kyle Williams will draw the ire of 49ers fans for a long time. There's no way to avoid that. That being said, if the postseason showed us anything, it's that Williams takes too many risks to play on special teams. But those same risks don't exist on offense, and Williams is a fast, agile receiver with good hands and solid potential. He was limited in his playing time, but aside from two good performances, he was largely invisible. He was good, but he'll need to step it up big time in 2011. C+

Brett Swain doesn't strike fear into defenses. He had two receptions, and in his defense, he was held badly on a play that would have went for big yardage. Still, Swain is not that great and did not do anything well in 2011, in his limited time on the field. D-

Joe Hastings did not have any stats.

Overall: C-


49ers Grades: Joe Staley, Mike Iupati Play Well Down The Stretch For Strong O-Line

We'll continue our grades of the San Francisco 49ers' various positions today with a look at the performance of the offensive line. As a whole unit, they struggled earlier on in the season, but got stronger as the season went on. The thing about the 49ers' offensive line is that, where they struggled in one aspect (pass protection), they excelled in the other.

In other words, when the offensive line started to toughen up against pass rushers later on in the season, they stopped blocking for Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. But you take the bad with the good, and the 49ers relied on Alex Smith and the passing game late in the season, and they came just short of their ultimate goal. Let's get on with the grades.

Joe Staley started off the season in much the same way as he finished the last: solid, but with plenty of mistakes. Staley was prone to making all manner of mistakes at the start of the 2011 campaign, from false starts to missed assignments. It was very frustrating for the team and its fans, considering Staley's contract and the fact that he's a seasoned veteran at this point. He makes immature mistakes, and that's the bad that comes with the good. Fortunately, Staley improved an awful lot as the season went along, becoming a rock at the left tackle spot, something that is often overlooked. It's true that, when he went down with an injury, that his replacement played well, but Staley isn't on thin ice at this point. Playing well down the stretch earns him a B+.

Mike Iupati actually had a bad game or two, for what seems like the first time in his career. That being said, Iupati played out of his mind more often than naught. It's hard to explain how Staley earned a Pro Berth in lieu of Iupati, but either way, Iupati most certainly deserved a berth. He is a mauler in the run game and, though he made the occasional mental error, he was absolutely solid in pass protection. The only time he faltered was when, hilariously, the right side of the line suffered injuries. A

Jonathan Goodwin came in and struggled early on. In fact, Goodwin had some very bad games over the first couple weeks, and then suddenly he was a rock. Goodwin played at a very high level from about week four on, and there's not much else to say about him. It's clear he doesn't have a ton of time left to play, but for now, his best moments were pretty darn good. Still, he wasn't as consistent as many expected, given that he's a former Pro Bowler. B-

Adam Snyder did just as I always thought he would, and played very well at right guard. He did have issues with some of the power guys and dealing with Anthony Davis messing up to his right, but he played hard and was a force in the run game. Snyder made a lot of athletic plays, too, and was great in the middle double-teaming guys with Goodwin. In short, Snyder should definitely be the guy going forward at right guard unless the 49ers are presented with someone can't-miss. A-

Anthony Davis was beat soundly by certain kinds of rushers. The monster edge rushers like Jason Babin absolutely abused him from start to finish. That was Davis' biggest problem in both of his seasons thus far: once he got beat, it spiraled out of control and he continued to get beat. He's not a bad player by any means and he's still ridiculously young, but the guy has to get more consistent and he needs to not fall behind so much. He can go a game without relenting one bit and then get beat 15 different times the next week. Consistency is the problem. C

Alex Boone is someone that is hard to evaluate, given the fact that he's so impressive looking in practice and as a physical specimen overall, but he hasn't seen the field much. When he did see the field, he played well, but he failed to do anything spectacular with his playing time, something that is disappointing given the lacking play from Davis. Some 49ers fans hoped that Boone would have worked his way into the lineup, however improbable that would have been. B

Chilo Rachal played well. He came in for relief a couple of times and didn't screw up. That's as nice as we're going to get. He's not great in pass protection, but he's not a bad blocker. He didn't inspire much confidence, either way. C

Overall: B+


49ers Grades: Frank Gore, Bruce Miller Lead The Way In Strong San Francisco Rushing Attack

We're continuing our position-by-position grades of the San Francisco 49ers in 2011 today with a look at the teams' roster of running backs. San Francisco ran the ball well in 2011, as was expected under Jim Harbaugh. It's true that he brought a variation of the West Coast Offense to San Francisco, but it was a variation that relied on tight ends and running backs. As the tight ends started slow, the running backs were counted on more and more, and carried on strong for the most part.

Let's jump right into the grades.

Frank Gore was the bell cow of the offense, and the focal point. In all actuality, the 49ers would have been much better off if they used Gore more often and in a different way, at times. It's hard to think about Jim Harbaugh and his offense not being utilized in its best way, but it was clear near the end of the season that they were getting desperate to innovate with the running game. They tried to fix something that wasn't broken, and Gore struggled. That being said, Gore did, at times, suffer from an inability to get going early on, and that in turn hurt the team. There were times when the blocking was good and he'd just stumble, and he was injured at times, once again. Gore was one of the top running backs in 2012, but it's hard to see his production lasting. He also didn't catch the ball as well as he did in recent seasons. B+

Kendall Hunter spelled Gore as the change-of-pace back and, as a rookie, he showed some great things. He didn't get a ton of carries, and there were certainly moments in which he looked like he wasn't totally adapting to the NFL game well, but when he had the ball in his hands and just a little bit of space, he showed flashes of a dynamic playmaker and the 49ers should feel good about that. Outside of one game early on, Hunter also pass protected very well for a rookie and someone his size, so that's another sign going forward. A little bit more was expected of him and his carries, but the 49ers have every reason to be excited about him going forward. B+

Anthony Dixon is one of the most well-loved 49ers thanks to his skills on the dance floor and his colorful personality on Twitter, but how does that translate to the field? In all actuality, Dixon ran a little bit better than usual, not choosing to dance around, but it was pretty clear that he's the third option going forward. A definite positive is the fact that he pass protects well, has the build to potentially take some snaps at fullback, and was a contributor to what was perhaps the league's best special teams unit. C+

Bruce Miller came in as a rookie and played out of his mind. The guy was a defensive end in college and immediately made the transition to fullback. His biggest tool as a defensive end has made him a powerful and punishing blocker: his ability to use leverage. He was so good with that on the defensive side of the ball, and he's used it to toss around defensive players on the offensive side with the 49ers. Miller wasn't perfect, though, making rookie mistakes in his assignments, letting Alex Smith and the other running backs take punishment. The fact that he was a rookie learning a new position and that he looked useful in the passing game make his potential going forward pretty darn high. A-

Moran Norris lost his starting job after missing time with an injury, and to his credit, he played well before it happened. Most 49ers fans won't admit as much, given the fact that Norris has been the scapegoat since returning to the team. For the most part, he actually has deserved the flack that came his way, but he did look decidedly less useless this time around than before. Still, he's not half the player he was back in 2006, and the fact that he's no longer just being out-muscled, he's being out-smarted means he's not likely to return in 2012. The grade is also marked down because he is a non-factor in the passing game. D+

Overall: B


Carlos Rogers Rumors: 49ers Cornerback Reportedly Wants Four To Five Year Contract

The San Francisco 49ers head into the offseason with several question marks in free agency. Carlos Rogers presents one such question mark at the cornerback position. The team has some very solid young depth at the position and could likely survive losing Rogers. At the same time, it would drastically impact the depth chart when you go from Rogers-Tarell Brown-Chris Culliver to Brown-Culliver-Tramaine Brock (or something along those lines).

Rogers is coming off the best season of his career in which he earned a Pro Bowl nod and hauled in a career high in interceptions. Rogers has indicated he is willing to take a bit of a team discount because he likes the 49ers organization. At the same time, he still wants to get paid like a top cornerback. Rogers is reportedly looking for a four-to-five year deal.

The 49ers do have some options with the franchise tag, but they are more likely to use the tag on free safety Dashon Goldson. The franchise number for a safety is in the six million dollar range, while the tag for a corner is in the ten million dollar range. Add in the fact that the 49ers do not have many options behind Goldson like they do at cornerback, and it seems all the more likely that they tag Goldson.


49ers Season Review: Vernon Davis' NFL Playoffs Performance Helps Tight Ends Grades

It's tough to really grade the San Francisco 49ers when it comes to certain positions. Given the fact that Jim Harbaugh was supposed to come to the team and bring with him a power-running team with an emphasis on versatile tight ends in the passing game, one would say they did not perform up to those expectations. Early on, the offense did favor the tight ends in Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker, but neither managed to really ... be open as much as one needs to run that kind of offense.

As such, throughout the course of the season, all three tight ends on the roster fell into more of a blocking role - and they all did it very well. When you consider that, they get higher marks, but one has to feel that it was a slightly disappointing performance from this group. It's not a stretch to say that you expect nothing short of straight A's. That being said, a strong performance in the playoffs from one of them certainly bumped it up a little.

Vernon Davis is not nearly as consistent as one would like, but he showed up big time in the playoffs, and was a key contributor in the 49ers making it past the New Orleans Saints. Early on, folks expected a lot out of him, given Jim Harbaugh's tight-end driven offense, but he was double-covered for a good portion of the opening few weeks and his chances were few and far between. Eventually, the 49ers started to use him more for blocking, and the double coverage slowly went away.

The problem? Davis still wasn't a huge factor in the passing game. Teams stopped putting double coverage on him, and he relapsed into having a case of the dropsies. More than that, Davis regressed in his ability to lay out and really go after balls. In short, he became everything 49ers fans disliked about him until Mike Singletary pulled his pants down and sent him to the showers. (That sentence was awesome to write!) But again, Davis did show up for the playoffs and he is insanely good at blocking. It's hard to be really strict with his grade. B+

Delanie Walker had a pretty normal year for him ... on opposite day. Walker suddenly became this dynamic blocker who left it all on the field, especially from a fullback position. Unfortunately, he became less and less of a factor, and unfortunately, he picked the wrong Giants game to step up in. In an offense that was supposed to feature two prominent tight ends, Walker didn't impress by any stretch of the imagination. Still, he's in shape, his presence on the field always has to be accounted for by defense, and his blocking was something to admire. B-

Justin Peelle was essentially a non-factor, but his blocking ability in the absence of Bruce Miller was definitely there. He missed assignments pretty frequently in run blocking from the No. 2 tight end position, but he performed well in the H-back/fullback role, which could help his chances of remaining on the roster in 2012. If he can be a backup fullback, then the 49ers may cut ties with Moran Norris and embrace the fact that, in a nutshell, Peelle is a versatile blocker. B-

Overall Grade: B


San Francisco 49ers Season Review: Justin Smith, The Driving Force Behind An Elite Defensive Line

We're starting to roll out our position-by-position grades for the San Francisco 49ers for this past season. It was a season that saw a team that was only expected to get four-to-six wins rise to the top and fall just a game short of an appearance in the Super Bowl. Though the season ended on a disappointing note, the team came so far and should feel great heading into the next season, providing they can keep the roster together.

The defensive line led the 49ers to a league-best rush defense and, of course, made the rest of the defense better around them. Let's take a look at the grades for the season

Justin Smith was ridiculously good at every single thing he did in 2011, as he has been since joining the 49ers. He's a veteran leader, and he played extremely well with his motor at 100 percent for each and every game. Smith is a great pass rusher who is always in the mix to disrupt a quarterback, and he's got some of the best block shedding to help stop the run. He was an unquestionable leader on defense, and despite the fact that he's now 32 years-old, he's looking like he'll continue to be an every-down player in 2012. Smith was arguably the defensive player of the year in 2011. A+

Isaac Sopoaga is a player who I personally was not so high on in the offseason. He was coming off a season at left defensive end in which, for the first time in his career, he wasn't useless. Then, Aubrayo Franklin left for "greener" pastures with the New Orleans Saints and Sopoaga had to switch positions. It was a big change, even though he'd played nose tackle before, especially given that he finally seemed to "get it" in 2010. But Sopoaga was fantastic this past season, stopping the run and occupying space for the best linebackers in the NFL in Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Perhaps the biggest change for him is the fact that he found a way to use all that strength of his with a new set of moves and the application of leverage. A-

Ray McDonald received a nice extension in the offseason despite not having started at left defensive end. Up until that point, he'd been a backup, though it's worth noting that he was, in fact, a good backup with some solid pass-rushing skills. McDonald came in and played at a very high level, rushing the passer well and stopping the run better than most figured he could. Through the first few weeks, he was one of the best 3-4 ends in the NFL, but he cooled off near the end of the season, and was banged up. Either way, he earned his starter contract and should progress nicely next season, provided he can stay healthy. B+

Ricky Jean Francois played all positions on the defensive line in 2011, making starts at nose tackle and left defensive end, filling in for injuries. He played very well, and that kind of versatility is very useful in this league. You could probably ask any 49er fan if they're OK with Jean Francois as a starter, and a good portion will likely tell you that. Graded as a backup and his level of play off the bench, he'll get high marks. A-

Demarcus Dobbs was active for 12 games and recorded a couple tackles. He came in with nobody knowing who he was and ended up being active so much, which is definitely a good sign. Still, after a great preseason, a bit more was expected of him once the regular season came around. N/A

Ian Williams only appeared once and did not register any tackles. He remains a player with solid upside at the nose tackle position. N/Q

Overall, the 49ers boasted an extremely tough defensive line in 2011, and it is what anchored the NFL's best defense. Without the defensive line playing the way it did, Willis and Bowman might look a little more human, and the secondary would have struggled mightily. Having one of the best in the NFL, two dependable starters and a versatile backup gives the 49ers offensive line a final grade of A.


San Francisco 49ers Free Agents: Dashon Goldson, Carlos Rogers Franchise Tag Candidates

With the San Francisco 49er playoff run now at an end, the team starts to look toward next season and some difficult decisions are going to have to be made. One particular decision process involves using the franchise tag or not, and deciding which player to potentially use it on. Right now, as Matt Maoicco points out, safety Dashon Goldson and cornerback Carlos Rogers are the two likely candidates. Maiocco says:

Goldson and Rogers tied for the 49ers lead with six interceptions. Both had very good seasons. But Goldson is the player the 49ers would franchise because it would cost less and they currently have nobody on the team to take his spot if he were to leave.

The franchise tag for safeties is expected to be $6.2 million for one year. The tag for cornerbacks will be around $10.6 million. So it would cost more than $4 million extra for the 49ers to franchise Rogers over Goldson.

Plus, the 49ers have nobody behind Goldson to take his spot. The 49ers' third safety this past season was Reggie Smith, who is also scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

A team source told CSNBayArea.com that the day after the season, the sides reached an understanding that Smith would look for an opportunity elsewhere. The 49ers are likely to sign another veteran safety to a minimum-type of contract and/or select a backup safety in the draft.

With both players voicing their desire to stay with the team the franchise tag might not even prove a necessity, but if it does come to that, it's interesting to note that there is very little depth behind Goldson at the safety position right now. If Goldson were to leave in free agency, it could leave the 49ers elite defense scrambling and cause potential problems. Hence, this speculation that they may trump that option. It will be interesting to see what comes of this and more as the offseason gets underway.

For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation.


49ers Sign Seven To Future/Reserve Contracts

With the offseason hitting so suddenly, it's time for some actual news for the San Francisco 49ers to pour out. As such, the team announced on Tuesday the signing of seven players to reserve/future contracts. The team announced the signings of Chase Beeler, Derek Hall, Mark LeGree, Cory Nelms, Kyle Nelson, Konrad Reuland and Michael Wilhoite to reserve/future contracts.

Beller, a center, signed with the 49ers earlier in the year as an undrafted free agent and is considered to be a player with some backup potential and could eventually make his way onto the roster. Reuland is also considered a player with potential to make the roster as a diverse tight end, but the 49ers already have some big weapons at the position.

These are all signings necessary to ensure the practice squad is formed next season. They're all being brought in to be bodies in training camp and the preseason, though all will compete and try to make it, obviously. Every player but Kyle Nelson spent time on the 49ers practice squad in 2011. Nelson has played tight end and wide receiver, and was a long snapper in college.


San Francisco 49ers Offseason: Fantastic Season Comes To An End With Free Agency Looming

The San Francisco 49ers had a great season, and are now entering an offseason in which Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke will try to keep together a unit that took the NFC West with relative ease in 2011-12. For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation.

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