San Francisco 49ers

Minor splashes: Who exits, who enters in 49ers free agency

Of the 49ers’ free agents, Frank Gore’s future is one of the more difficult to predict
Of the 49ers’ free agents, Frank Gore’s future is one of the more difficult to predict AP

Trent Baalke rarely makes big splashes in free agency as the list from last year shows. Safety Antoine Bethea -- who eventually was named the 49ers' MVP -- signed what can be described as a moderate deal. The rest of the additions were league-minimum-type contracts.

Free-agent signings:

* S Antoine Bethea, 4-year deal

* CB Chris Cook, 1-year deal

* WR Brandon Lloyd, 1-year deal

* QB Josh Johnson, 1-year deal

* LB Chase Thomas

* LB Blake Costanzo, 1-year deal


* WR Stevie Johnson

* QB Blaine Gabbert

* OT Jonathan Martin

The 49ers typically say goodbye to more -- and to more expensive -- free agents than they reel in. That allows them to snag compensatory picks in the draft. This year, the team is expecting two. Baalke already has signed three free agents -- Darnell Dockett, Jerome Simpson and Jarryd Hayne. But because they were available before the official start of free agency on Tuesday, they will not count against the team in the formula for calculating draft picks.

With that in mind, it seems as if the 49ers could be in line for a spectacular compensatory pick list in 2016 if Mike Iupati, Michael Crabtree, Chris Culliver and Dan Skuta head elsewhere as expected.

WR Michael Crabtree exits: draft pick enters.

The 49ers must get younger and faster at this position. There are a number of wideouts in the draft who could tempt the 49ers, including Ohio State's Devin Smith and Auburn's Sammie Coates. It will be interesting to see whether Alabama's Amari Cooper or Louisville's DeVante Parker slide close enough for Baalke to snag them.

CB Chris Culliver: Perrish Cox

Cox will be easier to bring back, although he, too, could get a free-agent offer the 49ers don't feel they can match. Another cornerback who could be re-signed is Chris Cook. With Tramaine Brock, Jimmie Ward, Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser and Kenneth Acker also on the roster, the 49ers have options. Baalke also has chosen at least one cornerback in every draft he's run save 2012's (He's looking into having that draft expunged from his record).

RB Frank Gore: Frank Gore

The 49ers are willing to be a bit more elastic with their salary structure with an iconic figure like Gore than they would be with most everyone else. That suggests they might be willing to match whatever offers Gore gets. Still, it's no lock that Gore comes back. Working with Andrew Luck in Indianapolis is every running back's dream because A.) He would see fewer eight-man boxes and B.) He would have a strong chance of going deep into the playoffs. The Colts have been inquisitive of Gore, according to a league source. If Gore leaves, former Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller has been linked to the 49ers. He seemingly would be a good fit in a stretch-running style offense that the team may incorporate this year.

G Mike Iupati: Brandon Thomas

The 49ers will keep an eye on Iupati in the hope that his market doesn't skyrocket and they can bring him back. However, the fact that they haven't been able to work out an extension to this point suggests that their price point for him is not close to what he believes his market is. The team drafted both Thomas and interior offensive lineman Marcus Martin in the third round last year. One of them should be able to step into a starting role. Daniel Kilgore, Joe Looney and Dillon Farrell are other options.

WR Brandon Lloyd: Jerome Simpson

The 49ers replace a receiver who sat out the 2013 season with one who sat out the 2014 season.

OT Jonathan Martin: Byron Bell

Martin is not a free agent. Still, he's in line to earn $1.04 million this season and the team may be interested in upgrading its swing tackle position. Someone like Bell, a free agent from Carolina, might be the right combination of low impact/good fit for Baalke. He's big (6-5, 340) and physical and could fill in at guard, too. Right guard Alex Boone is heading into the final year of his contract.

WR/ST Kassim Osgood: Marcus Easley

Osgood is an unrestricted free agent. The 49ers could look at Easley, a free agent from Buffalo whom Pro Football Focus called the best gunner in the league last year. Easley would be a Marlon Moore-type pickup. (See: free agency, 2013).

OLB Dan Skuta: draft pick(s)

Skuta likely wants a shot at a starting job, something he is unlikely to get in San Francisco. If the team parts ways with Ahmad Brooks and Skuta this offseason, it could be a situation in which they turn to both free agency and the draft for outside linebackers. The 49ers are interested in ex Eagle Trent Cole, but so are a half-dozen other squads. The draft is very solid in pass rushers. If Mississippi State's Preston Brown is still available in the second round, he'd be a nice fit. Montana's Zach Wagenmann is a later-round player with intriguing potential.

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