Niner notebook

Notes, quotes and anecdotes and a look at 49ers personnel.

HOT CORNERBACKS: Cornerbacks have become a hot commodity this offseason. Ahmed Plummer's $11 million signing bonus ranks behind only Champ Bailey's $18 million, which he received from the Denver Broncos this week. Plummer will get $5 million now and $6 million next year. Antoine Winfield (Minnesota) received $10.8 million and Shawn Springs (Washington) received $10 million. Former Niners cornerback Jason Webster and Fernando Bryant (Detroit) both got $7 million guaranteed.

"I don't know if it (cornerback) is the most important position, but it's a vital position," Plummer said. "It can make a difference in a game. It's becoming a passing-oriented league, so you really need good corners to give your ball club a chance to win a game now."

T.O. AND ROSA: Disgruntled receiver Terrell Owens continues to raise eyebrows in the 49ers organization with his comments through the media. Owens, who has burned every bridge in the 49ers organization over the past several seasons, went so far as to compare his plight to that of civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

When asked on his Web site why he doesn't just play the cards he was dealt, Owens responded, "SUMTIMES U HV 2 DO WHT'S N UR HEART 2 DO, JUS CN SETTLE 4 WHATEVER, ROSA PARKS DIDN'T! U HV 2 STAND UP 4 UR RIGHTS & THT'S WHT I PLAN 2 DO, WIN OR LOSE!!!!!"

SLOW GOING: After the signings of Plummer, John Engelberger and long-snapper Brian Jennings in the first couple days of free agency, Niners general manager Donahue said the club would slow down out of necessity.

"We are not going to be as active now because of cap constraints," Donahue said. "We can't be as active. If we weren't hemmed in we would be as active as heck. We would be all over it, but we have to sit back now and re-evaluate exactly where we are at and exactly where we are going to go next week."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The fact that we could get (John) Engelberger and (Ahmed) Plummer back that really helps us. It keeps that defense more intact. I think psychologically, physically, and in every way it will put us ahead of the game. It allows us to be more aggressive in the draft. It allows us to have a little more comfort in picking the best available player and not have to weigh need quite as much" -- GM Terry Donahue on the recent signings of DE Engelberger and CB Plummer.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL: The 49ers are not expected to make any big strikes on the open market. Instead, they have focused on players who would be expected to take on backup roles if they were to wind up with the team.

The 49ers visited with Cincinnati receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who played at Oregon State under 49ers coach Dennis Erickson. Houshmandzadeh, a restricted free agent, did not catch any passes for the Bengals last season because a severe right hamstring injury limited him to just two games. He caught 41 passes for 492 yards in 2002. If the 49ers signed the receiver to an offer sheet, the Bengals could match the terms of the deal to retain his services. If the Bengals declined, the 49ers would owe them a seventh-round draft pick.

Also, guard David Loverne, who played just two games with the St. Louis Rams last season, and cornerback Mario Edwards, who has started 46 games the last three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, visited the club. Both Loverne and Edwards are unrestricted free agents.

NEEDS/DRAFT PRIORITIES: Receiver -- the 49ers will not have either starter back next season, with Owens traded away to the Ravens and Tai Streets having departed via free agency. Defensive line -- the team needs to solidify its pass rush with more juice coming from the outside; also, they're in need of help and depth at defensive tackle, particularly now that Travis Kirschke has signed with Pittsburgh. Cornerback -- The 49ers will have to find a new nickel back behind starters Plummer and Mike Rumph, as Webster signed with the Falcons, and Rashad Holman was not tendered as a restricted free agent.


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