Keeping track of who's coming and who's going
News: Veteran cornerback Nate Clements is officially released.
Views: No surprise here, as word slipped out of 49ers headquarters on Wednesday afternoon that Niners – as had been long speculated – were indeed going to rid themselves of Clements' exorbitant salary, which would have counted more than $17 million against their 2011 salary cap total. The 49ers had no choice here. Clements wasn't worth the $15 million salary he would have earned this season, and that money can be put to better use finding his younger replacement. The door still is open for Clements to return at a substantially reduced salary, but that is an option the 49ers hope they don't have to consider.
News: Veteran quarterback David Carr also put on waivers.
Views: It's no surprise that Carr was sent packing to clear $2.375 million in cap room, because the franchise had totally lost confidence in the veteran by the middle of last season, and nobody expected him to be more than a No. 3 afterthought at quarterback behind Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick this summer. The money saved by Carr's departure will be used on the key free agents the 49ers are targeting, and it might even help bring in another veteran quarterback to compete with the two already on the roster, or will be on the roster once Smith signs with the team Friday.
News: The Niners decide to part ways with kicker Joe Nedney in favor of bringing in free agent David Akers.
Views: Nedney had been very reliable and productive in his six seasons with the 49ers, a span during which he became the most accurate kicker in team history, making 86.6 of his field-goal attempts wearing the red-and-gold (129 of 149). But Nedney has shown signs of breaking down, ending each of the past two seasons on injured reserve. At 38, the power was starting to drain from Nedney's left leg and he noticeably lost distance on his kickoffs last season, something that wasn't likely to improve at this stage of his career. In Akers, the 49ers are getting an accomplished five-time Pro Bowler who still is at the top of his game at age 36. Akers signed a three-year contract, so he's just not a one-year rental to replace Nedney, who will be released by the team Friday.
News: Frank Gore is officially AWOL after not reporting for the opening of camp.
Views: Gore will receive a one-day grace period before he begins getting docked pay on Friday, but don't expect him to magically appear for the first day of practice. Holding out is very out of character for Gore, a stand-up guy and team-oriented player, and it's obviously a ploy orchestrated by his agent Drew Rosenhaus. In theory, it's not necessarily bad advice, since Gore still ranks as San Francisco's MVP on offense and is entering the final year of his contract with the team. At 28, Gore is at the age that running backs can decline at any time, particularly ones with the wear and tear Gore has absorbed, so it's not outlandish for him to seek more money while he still has the negotiating power of his performance and value to the team. But with a new coaching/management regime in place and a new offensive system to learn, Gore is picking a bad time to make a stand. If he gets a new deal, good for him, but it's just as likely the 49ers will wait him out, a situation where nobody wins.
News: Defensive end Ray McDonald gets a five-year, $20 million deal to return to the Niners.
Views: That's top dollar for a player like McDonald, who hasn't started a game for the 49ers since 2008. But the Niners had to make a quick decision with the fifth-year veteran or risk losing him, because McDonald was drawing attention from others around the league. Will the 49ers be stronger this year with McDonald at left end and Isaac Sopoaga at nose tackle than they were with Sopoaga at left end and Aubrayo Franklin at nose tackle last year? That remains to be seen. But the Niners were wary of giving Franklin any kind of expensive long-term contract, which is what it would have taken to convince him to return, so they opted to spend less money on a younger player who might work out better for the team in the long run. And given a chance at full-time duty, McDonald might improve the overall performance of San Francisco's pass rush, which needs it.
News: Center David Baas agrees to terms with the New York Giants and linebacker Takeo Spikes agrees to terms with the San Diego Chargers.
Views: These moves both came as a surprise since both veterans opted to leave the 49ers on the first day after the lockout and didn't wait any longer to consider offers from San Francisco. That's likely an indication that those offers weren't good enough, or even close to good enough. It's not so surprising that the Niners didn't make a serious play for Spikes, but that's not the case with Baas, who leaves a huge void with his departure that needs to be filled. Baas said just last month that he wanted to return to the 49ers, but the haste with which he agreed to terms with the Giants indicates the Niners weren't as interested as everybody thought they were, or perhaps should have been.
News: The 49ers sign their entire 10-player draft class before training-camp practices begin.
Views: Thank the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement for that. With the CBA putting a ceiling on what draft picks can earn with their first NFL contracts, there is not much room for negotiation or reasons for high picks to hold out. The Niners will have their entire draft class in uniform and on the field Friday, and that's a good thing since those youngsters have a lot of catching up to do after missing three months of offseason work due to the lockout.
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