The 49ers’ approach to free agency, which begins next week, is twofold: First, concentrate on re-signing their own free agents. Second, try to make sure their young, talented players never get to free agency in the first place.
The 49ers did both in recent weeks. They signed the player they targeted as their top free agent, wide receiver Anquan Boldin, to a two-year deal Monday. Before that, they signed Daniel Kilgore to a three-year contract extension that locks him up through the 2017 season. Kilgore, a fifth-round pick in 2011, is the frontrunner to be the team’s starting center this season.
The 49ers also are working on a long-term deal for quarterback Colin Kaepernick, scheduled to become a free agent a year from now. They also have considered an extension for guard Mike Iupati, another top player entering the final year of his first contract.
“They’re very, very good in making their in-house evaluations,” said former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian, who now works for ESPN. “They know who they want to invest in, and I think that’s a very wise move.”
NFL teams can begin negotiating with the representatives for pending free agents Saturday. On Tuesday at 1 p.m., free agents can start signing with other teams.
Here’s where things stand for the 49ers’ free agents:
Other pending free agents, such as quarterback Colt McCoy, running back Anthony Dixon, receiver Kassim Osgood and cornerback Eric Wright, also are expected to reach free agency. And cornerback Perrish Cox, fullback Will Tukuafu and defensive end Demarcus Dobbs are restricted free agents. The team is unlikely to tender any of them, however, which would make them unrestricted free agents. The 49ers could bring back any of that group on minimum-salary deals.
The 49ers also have one so-called “exclusive-rights” free agent, linebacker Michael Wilhoite. He filled in for Patrick Willis in 2013, and he will compete to be NaVorro Bowman’s replacement if Bowman, as expected, begins 2014 on the physically-unable-to-play list. In other words, look for the 49ers to re-sign Wilhoite in the coming weeks.