49ers Blog and Q&A

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

February 8, 2010
Niners free agents -- Pashos, Battle will have suitors

The next big event on the NFL calendar is the scouting combine which commences in Indianapolis on Feb. 24. The combine, of course, gives teams an up-close look at potential picks, but it's also a chance to meet with agents on the eve of the free agency period, which begins March 5. With that in mind, here's an update on the 49ers pending unrestricted free agents.

-WR Arnaz Battle: Battle was a starter from 2005-2007, but his reception totals have dropped in recent seasons and was seen more as a special teams player than a receiver in 2009. The 49ers plan to go into the 2010 with a receiving corps of Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Brandon Jones and Jason Hill. They could add a receiver in the draft who has return skills. Battle turns 30 on the 22nd, but there should be some teams that like his toughness and blocking ability. If I had to bet, I'd say he winds up in Baltimore.

--CB Dre' Bly: Bly started six games this season and had three interceptions (and one memorable fumble). The 49ers won't break the bank for the 32-year-old cornerback. He could definitely be back with San Francisco. But it only would be after Bly tests the market and doesn't find a lot of suitors. Remember, Bly was still available in late May when the 49ers were looking for someone to fill in for Harris.

--NT Aubrayo Franklin: The 49ers' nose tackle had his best season in 2010 and could expect to command a nice chunk of change on the open market. The 49ers, however, have no intention of allowing him to test the waters. Expect them to retain Franklin with the franchise tag. If so, they'll eventually either have to sign him to a long-term deal or find his replacement in a draft that is deep with interior defensive linemen.

--CB Walt Harris: Harris recently told ESPN's Mike Sando he feels good after missing 2009 with an ACL tear and that he wants to return to the team this season. Harris chose to do most of his rehabilitation in Santa Clara last season, which underscores the type of team player he is. There's no question he's an asset in the 49ers' locker room. The question is how much Harris can contribute at age 35 after suffering a major knee injury.

--OT Tony Pashos : The 49ers will sit down with Pashos' agent at the scouting combine. Pashos has said in the past that he wants to start. The 49ers, meanwhile, are expected to draft an offensive tackle this year. In addition, Pashos' long-time offensive line coach, Chris Foerster, is now in Washington and this is expected to be a weak market for all players, including offensive tackles. The Redskins need offensive linemen, they have deeper pockets than the 49ers and they have Pashos' offensive line coach. All signs point to him playing in D.C.

--S Mark Roman: This could be yet another offseason in which Roman - he turns 33 next month -- tests the market and ends up returning to the 49ers and having a significant role. The defensive coaches trust Roman, and with question marks hanging over Michael Lewis, he again could be a valuable cog for the 49ers in 2010. There's a solid chance Roman will be back.

--OT Barry Sims: He played very well at left tackle when Joe Staley went down with an injury and held up better than expected. Sims won't get a lot of attention on the open market, but the 49ers would like him back for depth. That will be even more critical if Pashos doesn't re-sign.

-- 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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