The FA tally: 15 49ers set to hit open market

The 49ers have agreements in place with kicker Joe Nedney and fullback Chris Hetherington, and the team is prepared to sign both to new contracts once the NFL's free-agency period - now scheduled to start at 12:01 a.m. (EST) Thursday - ever really does begin. Here's one final rundown of the 15 veterans on the San Francisco roster who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents once the bell finally does ring on the open market

FB Chris Hetherington: The 10-year veteran has an agreement in principle to return to the 49ers and figures to go into spring drills as the team's designated starting fullback. He supplanted Fred Beasley as the starting fullback for the final eight games of 2005, and ingratiated himself with the team's new regime in that role as the 49ers move forward.

K Joe Nedney: Nedney also has an agreement in principle to re-sign with the 49ers, according to sources. The multi-year deal is expected to pay him approximately $1.4 million annually, and he appears worth every penny of it after adding stability and strong-legged punch to a position that had been lacking both with the 49ers for several years before his arrival.

LB Derek Smith: He is a top priority for the 49ers to re-sign, but the team is allowing him to hit the open market, where - according to one agent - the Green Bay Packers are preparing to make him a lucrative offer on the first day of free agency. Smith, who has led the 49ers in tackles each of his five seasons with the team - including 163 last year and a franchise-record 189 in 2003 - might not be easy to sign for a San Francisco team that has no intention of overpaying for any free agent. The 49ers, however, are impressed with Smith's work ethic and production and certainly are serious about remaining in the running for his services.

LB Julian Peterson: The team's franchise player the past two seasons did not receive that designation again because it would cost the team $8.75 million on a one-year tender. Peterson is considered by many as the top linebacker available on the open market this year and is looking for a eight-figure signing bonus, something he's unlikely to get from the 49ers. Peterson still is a wonderful talent, and he should be better in 2006 because of the time removed from his torn Achilles' tendon, but don't expect the 49ers to make a huge investment to keep him.

FB Fred Beasley: Beasley, a Pro Bowler as recently as 2003, lost his starting job to Hetherington while he feuded with running backs coach Bishop Harris. He no longer fits into Mike Nolan's plan for the club and, while he still may have some time left as an effective and productive player, it won't be with the 49ers.

DE/LB Andre Carter: The six-year veteran, who has struggled in recent years to find the productive form of earlier in his career, is a player the 49ers would like to bring back. But it has to be at the right price, and Carter figures to get some nibbles on the open market. Carter did not adjust well to the team's new 3-4 scheme, as he recorded just 4.5 sacks in 2005. He does not appear well-suited to the outside LB role in the scheme, but also doesn't have the bulk and strength to consistently hold up at end.

LB Brandon Moore: The four-year veteran became a starter when Jeff Ulbrich was lost for the year with a biceps injury, and he took advantage of the opportunity, finishing second on the team in both tackles (93) and sacks (5). He is a good player around the line of scrimmage but still has a long way to go in pass coverage and to become a complete linebacker. The 49ers would like to bring him back as a top reserve, but he may have earned himself a decent payday with another NFL team with his 2005 emergence.

LB Saleem Rasheed: The 2002 third-round draft pick has been a disappointment throughout his 49ers career as an injury-prone player who has not been much of a factor on defense or special teams. He still is regarded by some as a player with potential because of his physical attributes, but he likely has worn out his welcome in San Francisco.

WR Jason McAddley: The four-year vet did a respectable job as the club's third or fourth receiver, but he should find himself up against stiffer competition this year for a roster spot. The 49ers might give him a veteran's minimum offer later in the year if no one else bites.

TE Terry Jones: A Ravens' castoff, the four-year vet came to 49ers at midseason and immediately became a starter. Still, this is a spot the 49ers have to upgrade significantly. Jones could offered a deal to return, but the 49ers won't spend any significant money to keep him.

S Marques Anderson: The four-year veteran was a late-season acquisition brought to the team because of the myriad of injuries in the defensive backfield. He doesn't figure to be in the team's 2006 plans.

TE Steve Bush: The nine-year veteran did not add much to the team at a position that was one of its glaring weaknesses, and the 49ers almost certainly will look for help elsewhere at tight end, particularly if they're looking on the open market.

T Anthony Clement: The eight-year veteran started at left tackle for a rough six-game stretch, playing so poorly that he had to be replaced by a rookie who had spent the previous six months playing guard. The 49ers would like to be a little more confident in their backups in the future.

DE Travis Hall: The 11-year veteran does not figure into the team's plan, and he might be headed toward retirement after a successful career, most of it with the Atlanta Falcons.

S Kris Richard: The four-year veteran was a late-season pickup who came to the team to fill a roster spot. He might get invited to training camp so that the 49ers can get a longer look at what he can bring to a secondary that needs upgrading.


Niners Digest Top Stories