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Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports that the San Francisco 49ers will meet with the agents of their biggest free agents this coming week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
According to Barrows, among that list are the agents of WR Anquan Boldin, G Alex Boone, and NT Ian Williams, all of which are scheduled to become free agents on March 9. Also on the list is QB Colin Kaepernick, who we will discuss in a minute.
Prior to the Super Bowl, Boldin had stated that he would like to return to the 49ers, but that no discussions had taken place yet. Of course, Boldin will turn 36 in October. Despite his age, the reigning Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year recipient led the 49ers in receiving last season. He had 69 receptions for 789 yards and four touchdowns. He ranks 17th all-time in receiving yards with 13,195 and is 12th all-time in receptions with 1,009. However, his age is a factor in his potential return. It is entirely possible that the 49ers take a gamble and try and replace him with a younger player via the draft.
Despite his best efforts, including a holdout, Boone failed to land a contract extension with the 49ers over the past two seasons. "I'm excited about free agency," Boone said in December. "But at the same time, I'd love to hear an offer from the Niners. At the end of the day, I'll let things work out the way they are." Boone's 2015 season ended early because of a sprained right MCL he suffered against the Cleveland Browns.
Spotrac.com sees a 3-year, $9 million deal in free agency as a likely scenario for Boone. "Inconsistent play and injuries have left Boone's financial future in question," says Michael Ginnitti of the salary cap management site.
Ryan Sakamoto of Ninerfans.com recently called Williams the 49ers' top free agent priority. "Williams is not only the anchor along the team's defensive line but a respected team captain. An explosive player who is fundamentally sound at the point of attack makes Williams a top priority and a player that should be retained for the long-term," Sakamoto said. Spotrac.com sees a 4-year, $30 million deal plus incentives in free agency as a likely scenario for Williams.
The only name on the list who is not scheduled to become a free agent is the player that has had the most offseason rumors surrounding him. That player is QB Colin Kaepernick. While a meeting between his "representatives" and the 49ers could be seen as a precursor to a trade, since numerous NFL trade talks begin at the combine, it could simply be both parties feeling each other out. Kaepernick clearly was not happy with how the 2015 season transpired. He was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert and then placed on IR prior to numerous surgeries. Since then, there have been rumors of him losing the locker room and even rumors of him wanting to play for the New York Jets.
With a new head coach in San Francisco, this could be an opportunity for a fresh start for Kaepernick. The team will need to know where they stand with their quarterback prior to $11.9 million of his salary becoming guaranteed on April 1. It is unlikely that the discussions will center around salary since cap room is not an issue for the 49ers, who are estimated to have about $55 million to spend, and the fact that Kaepernick's deal is already very team friendly.
Although, if Kaepernick is not the starter in San Francisco, it doesn't make much sense to have him back up a quarterback like Gabbert, who will make just over $2 million in 2016.
Last week, it was reported by ESPN's Adam Caplan that the 49ers were close to a new deal with TE Garrett Celek. Over 11 games last season, Celek, who turns 28 in May, caught 19 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns. He suffered an ankle sprain on November 29 against the Arizona Cardinals, ending his season for the second-straight year.
49ers Unrestricted Free Agents
WR Anquan Boldin
G Alex Boone
RB Reggie Bush
TE Garrett Celek
K Phil Dawson
NT Ian Williams