49ers will wait till June to spend surplus dollars

There wouldn't have been much surprise this week if Willie Jackson had been one of the selected free agents that appeared at the 49ers three-day minicamp. After all, Jackson has had numerous conversations with team in the past month, has been in for a visit at Niners' headquarters in Santa Clara, and the team has expressed legitimate interest in signing the free-agent receiver. But that interest appears to have waned after coach Steve Mariucci said the Jackson issue now is "a back burner item."

Jackson, the brother of Niners running back Terry Jackson who had a career-high 81 receptions with the New Orleans Saints last season, is asking for more than the Niners are willing to spend to acquire him, SFI has learned.

"Would we (still) have an interest? Yes," Mariucci said at minicamp. "We've brought him in here. We had some interest in him and I guess we still would. Right now, the (offensive tackle Blake) Brockermeyer thing may be more of an immediate concern. I'm not saying that's (Jackson) over with. It's still a back burner item. We're still very conscious of that."

In light of second-year receiver Vinny Sutherland's recent problems, it's now likely the Niners will pursue a veteran free-agent receiver with their surplus salary-cap dollars. Jackson once was a top candidate to be the object of that pursuit, but the Niners have decided to wait until after June 1 to re-assess who is out there and what they want to spend to bring in another receiver.

Jackson still is in the mix, and he also is looking for better offers than he so far has received on the open market. There likely will be several established receivers available after NFL teams make their June 1 cuts - Keenan McCardell, Antonio Freeman and Derrick Alexander are some top talents who are expected to be looking for jobs - so the Niners should have several options.

They also should have considerable money to exercise those options. The 49ers are $5.1 million under the NFL's salary cap and will clear approximately $1.5 million more when they release guard Ray Brown and defensive tackle Junior Bryant in June, leaving them room to sign at least a couple of veteran players should they choose.

But they refuse to overspend, as indicated by their recent dalliance with Brockermeyer and their new indifference with Jackson.

After negotiations with Brockermeyer fell through this week, Niners general manager Terry Donahue said the team wasn't negotiating with any other free agents. But talks continue with several players, and that action certainly will heat up in another week once the calendar turns the page to June.

"We're having conversations with a number of representatives and talking about possibilities," Donahue said. "But we are not negotiating with anybody."


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