49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

January 4, 2010
Expect most free agents to return for 2010

Here's a quick run-down of the 49ers pending free agents. Remember, if there is no new collective bargaining agreement - and it looks as if there won't be - guys like David Baas, Ahmad Brooks and Marcus Hudson will be restricted free agents, thus making them easier to attain. After each name, I give my percentage of certainty that the player will return in 2010 ...

Linebacker Patrick Willis offered his two cents about one of the soon-to-be free agents, Aubrayo Franklin. You probably can guess where Willis stands on the issue ...

"Oh man, I pray to God they keep Aubrayo," he said. "The coaches already know where my heart is. I say he's the best nose in the game. You turn on the film and nobody plays with better technique, nobody knows the game better than he knows it. He keeps my head from getting busted on every play and I'm thankful for that."

G David Baas. 90 percent. Baas likely will be a restricted free agent and he wants to return. All signs point to him being the starting left guard entering the season. Hopefully he can avoid the nutcracker drill that got him off to such a staggered start this season.

CB Dre' Bly. 50 percent. Bly signed a modest contract this season with the hope of parlaying it into a big payday. He'll likely test the market. The 49ers might want him back, but they are not going to pay top dollar.

WR Isaac Bruce. 0 percent. As MM noted, the 15-year veteran announced his retirement by switching into street clothes at halftime of Sunday's game.

WR Arnaz Battle. 35 percent. The 49ers have gone with a youth movement at receiver and Battle, who turns 30 next month, now longer is NFL-young. He could be back but he'd rather land with a team that sees him as a receiver. He'll get offers.

LB Ahmad Brooks. 85 percent. Brooks has a slightly lower percentage than Baas because he's the type of RFA another team might take a run at in the offseason. Still, the 49ers definitely like him and want to hold onto him. Expect him to compete for a starting role during the offseason.

RB Thomas Clayton. 65 percent. Clayton is still recovering from a torn ACL. He's been a very good camp and preseason runner for the 49ers, and there's no reason to believe they won't want to bring him back.

NT Aubrayo Franklin. 85 percent. Look for the 49ers to retain their nose tackle with the franchise tag, something they've had on the shelf since Julian Peterson was a 49er.

DB Marcus Hudson. 75 percent. Hudson has been on the bubble on cut-down day the last two seasons. He's not a cover corner, but he is a very good special teamer. He'll come cheap and there's no reason why the 49ers wouldn't want him back.

T Tony Pashos. 55 percent. Pashos wants to be a starter, but the 49ers will want to upgrade the right tackle position. Still, Pashos is comfortable with offensive line coach Chris Foerster and may accept a reduced role.

S Mark Roman. 62 percent. The player everyone loves to hate was a steady performer this season and even came up with a few turnovers. Coaches love Roman because he's reliable. If the 49ers don't make a big move at safety - i.e. draft one with a high pick - look for Roman to be back.

T Barry Sims. 75 percent. Sims was one of the more pleasant surprises of the season, playing very well at left tackle and holding up well despite being 35. The 49ers won't want him in a starting role, but they'd be happy to have him as a top back up.

LB Jeff Ulbrich. 0 percent. Ulbrich announced his retirement last month. But that doesn't mean he won't be back with the 49ers. The linebacker wants to get into coaching and the team would be smart to find space for him.

LB Matt Wilhelm. 25 percent. He filled in well for Takeo Spikes this season and is familiar to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. Still, the 49ers would rather Scott McKillop step into the back-up role.

Singletary will speak to the media at 3:30 p.m. today. I'm not expecting any ground-shaking pronouncements about players or his staff. Singletary and GM Scot McCloughan plan on spending the next few weeks carefully going over film from the season ...

-- Matt Barrows

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Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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