Tracking free agency, Part II

I’m starting a new entry with the second half of the first day of NFL free agency:

10:39 a.m.: The kids are at school, and I’ve arrived in Santa Clara. While en route, a source told me return specialist Allen Rossum will be returning to the 49ers.


10:44 a.m.: Certainly no surprise that fullback Moran Norris appears to be back with the 49ers. Pro Football Talk, which obviously has a pretty good handle on all the Drew Rosenhaus clients, is reporting the 49ers and Norris have agreed to a three-year, $5 million contract with $1.5 million guaranteed. Rosenhaus also represents Demetric Evans and Ronald Fields.


10:46 a.m.: The deals for Rossum and Norris might be agreed upon, but they’re not yet signed. When pen meets paper that’s when the 49ers will confirm.


10:51 a.m.: The Rossum stuff was reported earlier this morning by Bee-rows.


11:25 a.m.: When Brandon Jones meets with the 49ers today, I wonder if this subject will be addressed. Jones was arrested for possession of an unlawful firearm at the airport. Then, Jones was fined $15,000 for a touchdown celebration he called “take me to jail.”


11:32 a.m.: The 49ers have not gotten involved in talks with free-agent tackles Khalif Barnes (Jaguars) or Marvel Smith (Steelers). Barnes is getting attention from the Raiders, Saints and Buccaneers, while Smith is being courted by the Raiders and Ravens.


11:45 a.m.: There is no buzz about the 49ers going after quarterbacks. (They tried unsuccessfully to claim Bruce Gradkowski off waivers a couple weeks ago.) It seems pretty clear that Alex Smith will be back. The 49ers want him back, and the sides have talked parameters of a reduced deal. If Smith and his agent, Tom Condon, had any doubt about his future, they would have screamed loudly for the 49ers to release him several days ago before the start of free agency. That is the best evidence – along with new O.C. Jimmy Raye faxing Smith the introduction to the 49ers’ playbook – that Smith will return. At this point, if Smith is not back with the 49ers, his agent will have failed him miserably.


11:45 a.m.: In 2004, the 49ers had a chance to get receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Then-coach Dennis Erickson pushed hard for the team to acquire Houshmandzadeh as a restricted free agent. He visited the 49ers, and made it known he really wanted to reunite with Erickson, for whom he played at Oregon State. But GM Terry Donahue decided against signing him to an offer sheet. Houshmandzadeh did not catch a pass the previous season because of a torn hamstring. He returned to the Bengals, and caught 73, 78, 90, 112 and 92 passes in the seasons since. At the start of free agency, the 49ers have devoted their attention to receiver Brandon Jones, while Houshmandzadeh is visiting with the Seahawks today.


12:06 p.m.: Still no Jones appearance here at the 49ers’ team offices in Santa Clara. He’s expected to arrive a little later in the afternoon. GM Scot McCloughan said yesterday that the club would not sign a player without first meeting with him. “We have to put our hands on them from the medical standpoint because that’s a huge part of this thing – that we have to know that they’re healthy,” McCloughan said.


12:12 p.m.: So why aren’t the 49ers interested in quarterback Byron Leftwich? I haven’t heard one way or the other. It would seem to make sense. But, here’s something to consider: Leftwich’s agent is Tom Condon, the same man who represents Alex Smith. Just thought you’d want to know.


12:26 p.m.: I’m checking out Mel Kiper’s Free Agent Data Sheet. (Yes, I’m a loyal Kiper guy.) He has Jones ranked as the fifth-best receiver available in free agency behind Houshmandzadeh, Michael Clayton (Bucs), Devery Henderson (Saints) and Nate Washington (Steelers). Says Kiper, “This is a tough call. What makes it so is that you never know what you’re going to get from him on a weekly/yearly basis.”


1:04 p.m.: Cowboys defensive end Chris Canty does not have a visit scheduled with the 49ers. He is scheduled to meet with the Giants on Saturday/Sunday, then is slated to travel cross country to meet with the Seahawks on Sunday/Monday. If necessary, he will have additional visits scheduled, agent Brad Blank said.


1:50 p.m.: On March 5, 2007, the 49ers signed Moran Norris to a three-year, $3 million extension with a $600,000 signing bonus. Norris played just one season for the 49ers and was cut last summer. He latched on with the Lions and played eight games. Now, the 49ers have reportedly agreed to terms with Norris on a three-year, $5 million deal with a $1.5 million signing bonus. Apparently, the 49ers did not realize how valuable Norris was until he was gone.


3:27 p.m.: Takeo Spikes said he wanted to be back, and the 49ers said they wanted him back. So . . . apparently he’s coming back. Agent Todd France has not responded to my inquiries today, but is reporting the sides have struck an agreement on a two-year deal.


3:35 p.m.: The 49ers have reached agreements (but still no official signings) so far today with starting inside linebacker Takeo Spikes, return specialist Allen Rossum and fullback Moran Norris (Lions). They also have receiver Brandon Jones coming in for a visit. Since 2005, the 49ers have signed every one of their first-day visits. As reported earlier this week, the 49ers have no interest at this time in re-signing receiver Bryant Johnson or running back DeShaun Foster.


4:01 p.m.: Brandon Jones is scheduled to arrive in the Bay Area in about an hour. He’ll do all of his medical stuff this evening. Then, he’s scheduled to meet with coach Mike Singletary and GM Scot McCloughan tomorrow morning. So, if signs, it’ll probably happen tomorrow morning.


4:12 p.m.: There’s no reason to stick around here this evening. Titans receiver Brandon Jones is the only free agent who has yet scheduled a visit, and he’s not even going to visit 49ers headquarters until tomorrow. So I’m getting out of here.


Just to recap, the 49ers are very serious about Jones. Since ’05, the 49ers have signed every first-day free-agent visitor.


And the 49ers have reached contract terms (but have yet to officially sign):


LB Takeo Spikes

RS Allen Rossum

FB Moran Norris (Lions)


That’s it for now. Have a nice evening.


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