Giants may be out of running for Schulters

Lance Schulters may not be any closer to signing with the 49ers, but he may now be considerably further away from working a deal with one of his most attractive alternatives after the New York Giants signed free-agent safety Shaun Williams to a seven-year contract.

Schulters, who was raised and still lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., visited with the Giants earlier this month about lending his talents to their uncertain safety position. He was scheduled to visit with them again this week, but that may change now that New York has re-signed Williams - one of its top priorities in free agency - to a lucrative $24.5 million deal that includes a two-tiered signing bonus worth $6.5 million.

That's the kind of money Schulters, a 1999 Pro Bowl starter who has started at safety the past three seasons for the Niners, is looking for in his first venture into the open market. But he won't get it from the Niners. Like Williams, Schulters is one of the top unrestricted free-agent safeties available this year, but San Francisco has no intention of giving him a deal similar to the big money Williams received from the Giants.

"We want Lance back, but we want him back at the right price," Niners general manager Terry Donahue said Monday. "If he can get the kind of money the Giants gave (Williams) then that is great for him. But we can't afford to pay him that." After heaping that kind of cash upon Williams, it's unlikely the Giants can - or would - do the same for Schulters. But he remains a candidate to join his hometown team since the Giants still are looking for another starting safety after releasing Sam Garnes, their starting strong safety from last year. Williams is expected to move back to his natural position of strong safety, which would leave an opening for Schulters at free safety.

That would be just fine with Schulters, who made the Pro Bowl as a free safety in his first season as a starter in 1999, but was moved back to strong safety because he was a better fit there in the Niners' system.

Donahue said the Niners continue to talk with Schulters' agent, Brian Levy. But there was no noteworthy change in the two sides' positions on Monday. Schulters also is being courted by the Atlanta Falcons and has been offered a contract by the Tennessee Titans, who remain the apparent front-runner in the competition to acquire him.

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