The trade deadline was Oct. 19. There can be no more trades until the beginning of the new league year. The 2010 league year is scheduled to end March 3. In most offseasons, trades can resume on March 4. But that will not necessarily happen this year.
There will be no trading or free-agent player movement until the owners and players union decide on a new collective bargaining agreement. Players are bracing for a lockout beginning March 4 that would force all NFL activity -- other than the NFL draft (April 28-30) -- to a sudden halt.
Only trading of draft picks would be allow to occur before a new CBA. Teams will not be allowed to deal veteran players as part of trade packages before the draft, on draft day or after the draft without a new CBA in place.
Without a new CBA, the free-agent signing period would be postponed, too.
That means the only contracts that can be signed before March 3 are extensions. That is, a team can sign a player on its current roster to a new deal.
So, the 49ers are allowed to work out contracts with their own scheduled free agents, such as David Baas, Aubrayo Franklin, Manny Lawson, Dashon Goldson and others. (Remember, there was no NFL salary cap in 2010, and there are no indications that one will come back in the future.)
But prospective free agents generally do not re-sign with their clubs during that window after the season and before the open of free agency. Once players make it that far, they typically want to reach the open market so there becomes bidding for their services.
Teams can sign players who did not finish the season on a 53-man roster (that includes players who were on injured reserve). Practice-squad players are free to sign with any team.
All indications are that the owners and players are not close on a new CBA. It might be that the sides will not reach an agreement until August. Then, there could be a three-week period before the start of the season.
If that's the case, teams will be in a rush to sign players (rookies and free agents), make trades and hurry to get ready for the start of the regular season.
The 49ers, just like every team, will have to put a plan in place to get ready for the offseason. Their task would become more difficult because of the coaching change -- and a new system being installed for the players.
"Nobody really knows exactly what's going to happen with the CBA," Harbaugh said Friday at his introductory press conference. "Everybody would be under the same parameters though. Any and all obstacles, you just have to overcome it."