Quiet first week in free agency

When Niners general manager Terry Donahue said last week "we are not going to be real active" in free agency, he wasn't kidding. At least through the first week of the process, the Niners weren't much active at all. But the team has started new discussions with its own top free agent, defensive end Chike Okeafor, and the Niners brought in tight end Jed Weaver for a visit Friday, and reportedly have already made him an offer as they attempt to shore up that position.

The Niners recently signed Mark Anelli, their sixth-round draft pick last year, to a new contract, but they don't see him as the 2003 backup to starter Eric Johnson. Apparently, they don't see Justin Swift as Johnson's backup either, since they declined to tender Swift an offer last week, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Swift was not a bad backup the past two years to Johnson, who is a threat in the passing game but no more than adequate as a blocker. Swift didn't hurt the Niners when he played, but the team is looking for a more dimensional player who teams must regard when he comes into the game.

Weaver has been solid as a backup for the Miami Dolphins the past three years after starting 10 games as a rookie for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999. Though he had only six receptions last season, three of them went for touchdowns. And Weaver, who has 21 career starts, has averaged an impressive 12.4 yards per carry during his career, including a 17.9 average in 2000.

At 6-foot-4 and 262 pounds, he also can contribute as a blocker, though the Niners would like to have more of a downfield threat from their backup tight end this year with Dennis Erickson bringing in a more aggressive philosophy, and Weaver appears to have the dynamics to fill that role.

It has been reported that Weaver already has been offered a contract by both the Niners and Dolphins. If the offers are similar, Weaver may be leaning toward the Niners because they're dangling a more attractive role in their offense.


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