GM looking to make FA deal before training camp

The 49ers shook things up a bit last week by adding Jim Flanigan and Cade McNown to their roster while discarding Aaron Garcia and Jamie Rheem. Expect the team to shake it up again before training camp begins July 21 in Stockton.

The Niners clearly wants to add another veteran receiver to the roster before summer drills begin. But their top choice, free-agent Willie Jackson, still isn't biting at their offer - which is beginning to look like a final offer - as he attempts to find a better deal while he still has leverage. And Jackson's leverage - time - quickly is running out.

If Jackson doesn't have a job by mid-July, there's a good chance he will sign a one-year deal with the Niners. But as of today, there still are a lot of ifs involved in that scenario. The Niners don't appear inclined to wait around, and are actively inspecting the free-agent pool this month. The problem for the team: Besides Jackson, there might not be another veteran receiver available that the Niners feel can fit in and serve a purpose toward their formidable goals for 2002.

General manager Terry Donahue entered this week with nothing new to report on the Jackson front and said he has no visits scheduled by any free agents as the Niners prepare to close up shop before the real work - six nonstop months of it - begins in Stockton. But Donahue is looking, and - while most of the team scatters these next few weeks for their final summer freedom leading up to training camp - he will be actively seeking another key piece to add to his championship contender.

"We've got the radar out," Donahue said. "If a player's available we think helps this team, we'll try to get it done. At the same time, we're not doing deals just to do deals. We're looking at players out there to see if they might fit in."

When push comes to shove - and training camps begin opening around the NFL - the Niners are likely to find at least one more fit in the form of a free agent they covet caving in to their offer. But Donahue doesn't mind waiting. He's calling the shots in these negotiations, and if and when that veteran receiver signs with the team, it will be at Donahue's price and not the other way around.

The sooner Willie Jackson realizes that, the better his chances are of becoming a 49er. The longer he waits, the worse those chances become.

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