Free-agency begins tonight (not tomorrow)

That darn East Coast bias gets pretty annoying, eh?

All you read around the country – and I’ve been guilty of it myself – is that free agency begins Feb. 27. That is completely inaccurate. Free agency begins in exactly 12 hours. And according to my math, that makes it 9:01 p.m. here in the rainy Bay Area when the feeding frenzy begins.


Have not spoken to anyone with the 49ers since I was in Indy for the combine, but GM Scot McCloughan will address the local press corps (or what’s left of it) around high noon today in a conference call.


–Will he announce a new deal with Alex Smith? It seems be to a foregone conclusion that Smith will be on the team. There’s a reason the newlywed was faxed several pages of the team’s playbook last week.

–Will he announce any contract extensions?

–Will he announce any departures?


Obviously, you’ll be able to read all about it right here as quickly as I can turn it around.


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In conversations with folks around the NFL, there seems to be a belief the 49ers will take things slow in free agency – perhaps waiting for the first wave of free agency (when most of the big contracts are signed) before easing into the mix.


The 49ers went out aggressively to get guys the past couple years. They got some good players, but they paid a lot of money. Did it translate to more wins? I don’t know. Seems as if the teams that fill needs with well-scouted second-tier free agents who fit the system is generally the way to go.


I’ve been told the 49ers have from 10 to 15 free agents they’re targeting and they want to be patient. I wrote about that subject here, “49ers will take free-agent signing period slow and easy.” Of course, this is the time of year in which you have to exhibit some level of skepticism with every morsel of information.


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One of the intriguing guys in the draft is Ohio State defensive back Malcolm Jenkins. Is he a corner or safety? Before Jenkins ran his pedestrian 40 time at the combine, I asked McCloughan said about him.


“I think he’s a corner,” McCloughan said. “Once he proves he can’t do it, you make the switch.”


That seems to be his philosophy. There is more of a premium on cornerbacks. So when you draft somebody who can play either position, you first try to see if it’ll work at cornerback. That’s what the 49ers did last year with Reggie Smith. Up to this point, they’ve kept Smith at cornerback.


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