Killens says he'll sign with Denver

While the 49ers were concentrating on dealing with their high-profile unrestricted free agents, special teams stalwart Terry Killens has slipped out the door.

Killens told the Denver Post on Monday that he has agreed to a seven-year contract with the Broncos and will sign the deal today. Killens said the contract calls for a $140,000 signing bonus.

The Niners would have liked to retain Killens, who during the 2001 season was everything they could have hoped for and more after he signed a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum of $477,000 during training camp last summer. Killens made an immediate impact and provided a veteran presence on the team's young special teams units. He finished the season as the team leader with 25 special teams tackles, 14 of them solo - twice as many as any other player on the team.

He also performed well when called upon to fill in as a starter at outside linebacker when Julian Peterson was injured early in the season. Killens also earned himself a role in goal-line defensive packages as an extra linebacker. He finished with 10 tackles at linebacker.

The Niners reportedly made a final effort to sign Killens, but the 6-foot-1, 235-pounder was not a high enough priority for the team and found a better deal elsewhere. Killens is the first of San Francisco's nine unrestricted free agents to sign with another team. The team has signed three of those players - center Jeremy Newberry, fullback Fred Beasley and versatile offensive lineman Matt Willig. Newberry and Beasley were two of the Niners' top priorities to re-sign, along with starting tailback Garrison Hearst and starting safety Lance Schulters.

The team made offers to both Hearst and Schulters on Friday, but both players have been visiting with other teams. There was no reported progress Monday in negotiations between the team and representatives of Hearst and Schulters.


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