SANTA CLARA The 49ers' goal this offseason is to keep the gang together, but they enter free agency today with several members of their 2011 gang poised to hit the open market.
The most prominent: quarterback Alex Smith, who has had a three-year contract offer on the table for weeks now but who, as of Monday night at least, has not signed it.
At 1 p.m. today, Smith and several teammates become unrestricted free agents, meaning they can sign with any team that wants them.
"We have a lot of contact going back and forth, and the ball's in his court," team president Jed York said Monday. "He knows that we want him to be here. We'll see how it ends up."
Smith, meanwhile, has said he wants to be back and that he was confident a deal would be made.
"It's just a process," he said. "It takes some time. It will get done."
For the past two days, there have been rumors the 49ers are one of the teams interested in signing veteran quarterback Peyton Manning, who has visited the Broncos and Cardinals and has a visit set up with the Titans. The 49ers, however, have not wavered from their long-held stance they want Smith, not Manning, for the 2012 season.
York said he wasn't surprised or disappointed a deal hasn't been consummated.
"Free agency hasn't started yet, and I think we feel pretty good about where we are," York said.
The 49ers are expected to make their biggest free-agent splash at wide receiver and began the process by signing former All-Pro Randy Moss on Monday evening.
Moss had retired from football for one season before deciding to return.
The 49ers hope Moss can help a team that had only 41 pass plays that went beyond 20 yards. Only seven teams had fewer, and York noted that's an area the team is trying to improve.
The 49ers also are expected to push hard to re-sign wide receiver Joshua Morgan, who was one of the 49ers who worked out Monday at the team's headquarters.
Morgan, however, likely will have many suitors in a market that has plenty of intriguing pass catchers but even more teams needing them.
The 49ers are at the top of the list. After signing Moss, they have four wideouts under contract for next season, and one, Joe Hastings, was an undrafted free agent in 2011 who spent most of the season on the practice squad.
Other free agents the team is interested in re-signing include Adam Snyder, who replaced Chilo Rachal at right guard in Week 4, and two special-teams aces, Blake Costanzo and Tavares Gooden.
The 49ers offered Gooden, a linebacker, a contract, but he decided he wanted to test the market.