I’m heading out of town for the weekend – going to Vegas to watch the WCC hoops tournament – so there’s a chance this will be my last blog for several days. Therefore, I wanted to go out in style (or, at least, with a well-intentioned experiment).
Today is the one-week anniversary of the first full day of free agency. We continued what has become a yearly tradition of maintaining a minute-by-minute account of all the happenings.
My wife is a little unsure how this will work, but I’ve decided to post updates throughout the day – sort of like we did a week ago.
However, we’re going to be on a schedule today. From 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., I’ll be posting updates every quarter-hour. Like a harried bus driver, I’ll try to keep from falling behind. If I can’t keep up, I’ll try to safely drive a little faster next time to get to the next stop on time.
I’m thinking I probably should’ve informed my boss I was leaving for a few days before writing this. Oh, well, maybe if I link to his “American Idol Chatter” blog, he’ll forgive me.
Here we go. Please wait until we come to a complete stop before exiting:
8:00 a.m. (PT): Today at the 49ers’ practice facility, lineman Barry Sims and 49ers strength and conditioning coach Duane Carlisle will take part in a “Finding Balance” session to help maximize the potential of young female athletes. The title, T.H.I.N.K. GOLD! represents the objectives: Training, health, inspiration, nutrition and knowledge. The 49ers are joining the FC Gold Pride and the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative to co-host the conference. Guard Tony Wragge took part in the first event, a community caravan, in which he was joined by Brandi Chastain, among others. Chastain is the keynote speaker today at 11:30 a.m.
8:15 a.m.: Cardinals free-agent CB Eric Green is scheduled to visit the 49ers today. He has already visited the Dolphins and Titans. As is the case with these visits from Cardinals free agents, the first 45 minutes seems to be the key.
8:30 a.m.: GM Scot McCloughan is on record as saying the 49ers have not closed the door on Terrell Owens. I heard him say it on KNBR. He put his name behind that statement. Until he comes out, publicly, and says the 49ers are “moving in a different direction” or “there is no interest,” we have to hold him at his word. The 49ers used a similarly wimpy approach to the whole Michael Vick stuff. McCloughan and Mike Singletary have never publicly said they’re not interested in trading for him. But a club spokesman, apparently after speaking with McCloughan and Singletary, said the 49ers are NOT interested in Vick. Still, when given a chance – on the record – to say the same thing, McCloughan and Singletary have not spoken so definitively. Most of us know Owens and Vick would be HORRIBLE fits, but publicly the 49ers are not ruling it out. It’s almost as if they’re afraid to offend Vick and Owens . . . or their agents.
8:45 a.m.: Why Eric Green? Good question. The 49ers are currently down one cornerback, as free-agent Donald Strickland remains unsigned. Always thought Strickland would definitely return. I don’t know why this is taking so long. I know Strickland recently took a trip to
9:00 a.m.: These 15-minute intervals sure come up in a hurry. I’m taking the kids to school right now. I’ll be back in a bit.
9:15 a.m.: Sorry I’m late, but now I can relate to Brenda Warner. I had to plead with my kid to remain someplace she didn’t want to be: school.
9:30 a.m.: On the whole subject of the 49ers’ non-offer offer to Warner. Here is exactly what agent Mark Bartelstein told me two days ago: “I told them (the 49ers), theoretically, what I thought was the right deal for Kurt, and they agreed.” And we all know that Bartelstein thought Warner should make very close to the “franchise” salary of $14.65 million. So, basically, the 49ers did not make an offer. Instead, Bartelstein made a proposal and the 49ers indicated they would be willing to pay it.
9:45 a.m.: Cornerback Eric Green (Cardinals) has arrived at the 49ers’ facility. He’s in the process of getting his physical, and then he’ll meet with the coaches. His flight is scheduled to leave later this afternoon. As noted, he has already visited with the Dolphins and Titans, so we’ll see if the 49ers sign him before he jumps on that flight. Keep it tuned right here.
10:00 a.m.: Free-agent offensive tackle Damane Duckett will likely not be back with the 49ers, agent Jim Naughton said. The 49ers did not tender Duckett as a restricted free agent, therefore making him eligible to negotiate and sign with any team. The players’ union incorrectly had Duckett listed as an unrestricted free agent in its paperwork immediately following the season. Duckett, who was converted from defensive tackle in 2007, spent last year on injured reserve because of an injury involving cartilage under his kneecap. He has been healthy for several months, Naughton said. I figured all along that Duckett would be back because he continued to work out at the 49ers’ facility during the season. However, with the coaching change, the 49ers have apparently decided to move on without him. Naughton said Duckett considers himself an offensive tackle. He is not looking to move back to defensive line.
10:15 a.m.: Niners free-agent quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan has officially signed with the Bengals. “J.T. saw a lot of action last year and we see him as a player with still a lot of upside,” offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said on bengals.com. “He has experience in a number of systems and is a very sharp guy. We’re happy to have him as a backup to Carson (Palmer).”
10:30 a.m.: The day free-agency began, McCloughan was asked about the odds of the team re-signing O’Sullivan: “Fifty-fifty,” he said. “I mean, again, no doors are closed on any quarterbacks. You know, we know what J.T. is and he is a talent or a skill level that we like. So definitely, the door is not closed on J.T.”
10:45 a.m.: Your opinions of Kurt Warner might differ, but at least he was good for “Instant 49ers.” On Monday, this blog had its most page views in a single day: more than 104,000. Over the three-day stretch, there were 270,000 page views. Thanks, Kurt, for jumping on that jet to visit.
11:00 a.m.: From the community relations department . . . Niners owner John York and team president Jed York, along with several players and coaches, will take part in the Eighth Annual West Coast “Open Your Heart to the Children Benefit” at The Contemporary Jewish Museum in
11:15 a.m.: Absolutely loved it when Shaun Hill said he was happy Kurt Warner re-signed with the Cardinals. Of course, he loved it. Why wouldn’t he? Hill has a strong chance to be the 49ers’ starter in 2009 at about one-tenth the price it would’ve taken to acquire Warner. He would’ve been back on the bench if Warner had signed. Now, Hill is the front-runner for the starting job. By the way, when I spoke to Hill on Wednesday he was fishing for rainbow trout on the
11:30 a.m.: The 49ers talked about using some of their ample cap space to sign extensions with some of their players who are coming up on the ends of their contracts. By my count, there are at least 14 players from the 2008 roster whose contracts are set to expire at the end of the end of the coming season. Those players are OLB Parys Haralson, G David Baas, NT Aubrayo Franklin, CB Walt Harris, WR Isaac Bruce (who is considering retirement), WR Arnaz Battle, LB Jeff Ulbrich, S Mark Roman, K Joe Nedney, LS Brian Jennings, G Tony Wragge, CB Marcus Hudson, LB Ahmad Brooks and T Barry Sims.
11:45 a.m.: The final fishing tidbit concerning Shaun Hill . . . he was using a lure.
Noon: The 49ers announced the hiring of Jason Michael as offensive assistant. He was tights coach at the University of Tennessee under Phillip Fulmer last year after spending the previous two years as N.Y. Jets, first as quality control coach and then as tight ends coach. He was also offensive quality control coach and video assistant with the Raiders in 2005. He worked with Jimmy Raye with the Raiders and Jets. Michael was a quarterback at
12:15 p.m.: It is highly likely I have reported in the past that TE Vernon Davis and LB Manny Lawson could opt out of their deals after the upcoming season and become free agents. I provided inaccurate information. Please forgive me. Both first-round picks from 2006 signed straight five-year contracts. Both Davis and Lawson are signed through the 2010 season.
12:30 p.m.: The 49ers’ free-agent agreement with defensive end Demetric Evans (Redskins) can only mean one thing: The 49ers will move Isaac Sopoaga back to nose tackle. Remember, when Sopoaga signed his big contract, the comparable that was used in agreeing on the deal was the Cowboys’ Jay Ratliff. The 49ers will shift Sopoaga back to the nose, where starter Aubrayo Franklin has just one year remaining on his deal. Then, Evans – known as a hard-worker and a great teammate – will compete at left defensive end with Kentwan Balmer. The 49ers expect Evans to provide a great example for Balmer. The plan is, eventually, Balmer will take over as the main man at that spot.
12:45 p.m.: McCloughan said at the combine that the spread offense in the college ranks is beginning to make for a dearth of defensive lineman for the NFL. He said this is a deep draft for those hybrid defensive end/outside linebackers that the 49ers will seek to rush the passer. But he said it was a bad year for defensive linemen. It looks as if the 49ers already have the six linemen who will comprise their roster in 2009: Evans, Sopoaga, Balmer, Franklin, Justin Smith and Ray McDonald.
1:00 p.m.: The Pro Bowl will be returning to
1:15 p.m.: Working on getting in touch with Demetric Evans.
1:30 p.m.: Ooops, almost forgot . . . I’m scheduled to go on a Stockton radio station right now.
1:45 p.m.: Yes, I’m wondering what exactly the 49ers have planned at right tackle. Worst-case scenario, I suppose, is Adam Snyder starts there. If they’ve been looking at tackles in free agency, they’ve done it completely under the radar. The plan might be to select one of those four potentially outstanding tackles from the draft. The top four guys are Jason Smith (Baylor), Eugene Monroe (
2:00 p.m.: Hold my spot for me. I’ll be back.
2:15 p.m.: I got off the phone with Demetric Evans, who expects to sign his two-year contract with the 49ers today and overnight it back to them. I’ll probably milk the contents of this interview for a couple hours.
2:30 p.m.: The 49ers showed a little bit of interest in Jaguars free-agent tackle Khalif Barnes, but backed off, according to his agent Kenny Zuckerman. Barnes visited the Raiders this week, but it looks as if he is going to sign with one of two other teams (not the Raiders or the 49ers), Zuckerman just told me.
2:45 p.m.: Demetric Evans said he is coming to the 49ers with the idea of competing for a starting job (at left defensive end) and helping the defense move up the rankings into the top 10, if not the top 5, he said. He said he’s still hungry to perform. That fire is what enabled him to become a starter last season – in his seventh year in the league. If he did not have that will to get better, he never would’ve kept pushing to win a starting job.
3:00 p.m.: Demetric Evans will come out to the Bay Area alone. His wife, Dr. Aungel Latchley Evans, is in her third year of her residency, so she can’t move out West.
3:15 p.m.: Mike Singletary said a couple days after the season that he was looking for upgrades at safety and pass-rusher. Perhaps, he meant those replacements were already on the roster. Dashon Goldson is expected to replace Mark Roman at free safety, and Singletary has dropped hints that he believes Manny Lawson can become a third-down pass rusher. Unless the 49ers find some answers in the draft, Goldson and Lawson are the most likely solutions.
3:30 p.m.: Proven, big-time pass rushers generally are not available in free agency. The 49ers have shown some interest in Jason Taylor, but so have a lot of other teams. The 49ers are trying to build the roster, so I don’t see them giving up draft picks to try to pry franchise player Julius Peppers away from the Panthers. Lawson was the first linebacker off the field this past season on passing downs. But, remember, he did come to the 49ers after a successful college career built around getting to the quarterback. Singletary mentioned he has confidence Lawson can rush the passer. Lawson has not shown that ability in the NFL. But, also, he hasn’t been given much of a chance to show that aspect of his game.
3:45 p.m.: Safety Mark Roman, who has started 48 consecutive games since signing with the 49ers in 2006, was given permission from the team Tuesday to seek a trade. His agent, Albert Elias, said if he can’t find a trade, Roman can return to the 49ers as a spare defensive back who plays on passing downs. After all, Roman’s contract is not a burden to the 49ers. The average salary of the top-10 paid safeties last season was $5.13 million. Roman’s cap figure was $1.325 million. He is scheduled to make $900,000 in base pay in 2009.
4:00 p.m.: There wasn’t much of a market for free-agent safeties. The Rams franchised O.J. Atogwe. Yeremiah Bell (Dolphins) and Jermaine Phillips (Bucs) re-signed with their old teams. You would’ve thought the Browns’ Sean Jones would’ve gotten some attention, but he ended up signing only a one-year deal with the Eagles.
4:15 p.m.: The bus is running ahead of schedule . . .
Veteran receiver Isaac Bruce at some point in the near future will tell the 49ers if he plans to play this season. If it takes this long for a guy to decide whether he wants to return to action, he should go ahead and retire. Brandon Jones, the highest-paid receiver on the team, and Josh Morgan are penciled in as the starter, with Jason Hill and Arnaz Battle competing for the slot receiver. Sure-handed Dominique Zeigler also returns.
4:30 p.m.: Don’t know if we’ll have any news for you about Cardinals free-agent cornerback Eric Green before I sign off in the next half-hour to have dinner with friends tonight. Green’s agent just told me he’s in discussions with three teams. The 49ers are in the running, along with the Dolphins and Titans (the other teams Green visited this week). If the 49ers acquire Green, what does that mean for Donald Strickland and/or Shawntae Spencer? Strickland is a free agent. Spencer opened last season as the third corner before sustaining a torn ACL in the second game of the season. Spencer is scheduled to make $1.67 million in base pay this season, which is not outlandish for a corner who is going to see a lot of playing time. But the time might be here for youngster Tarell Brown to get more playing time, too.
4:45 p.m.: Back to the subject of offensive tackle . . . Snyder will be back on the team. Sims is under contract. All indications are that Jonas Jennings will not return. So, obviously, the 49ers will be interested in an offensive tackle with the No. 10 pick in the draft. Will Andre Smith be there? He did himself no favors at the combine, but he’s very talented. Watch this interview and his explanation, and tell me whether you want him on the 49ers.
5:00 p.m.: Is it already 5 p.m.?
I was hoping for a fantastic ending to the day, but instead it’ll end with a thud.
Hey, at least today’s exercise accomplished one thing: I don’t feel as bad about taking several days off from work now. Hope you found at least two items useful during my nine-hour blogapalooza. Sorry I couldn’t expedite the whole Eric Green episode to get you an answer during regular business hours.
Have a great weekend!
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