NFL Free Agency gets going in approximately six weeks. Until then, teams will have an exclusive negotiating window to get deals done. The 49ers have plenty of their own free agents to consider before they move on to consider outside options in free agency and the draft.
When Coach Harbaugh wrapped up the season at his press conference on Monday, he twice mentioned how players had built up equity with the team. He was asked first about the idea of players coming off this great year but still ending up somewhere else:
You've talked throughout the year you like this team. Obviously there's going to be turnover. How difficult is that going to be when that process comes to see some of the guys who were contributors on this team go other places?
"Well, I think a couple things there. If a player could just make significantly more money going to another team than we would be willing or able to pay them, then I would be happy for those players. But, we're going to compete. We're going to compete for the guys that played 16 games, who were consummate team guys. That's what I've told them and that's what we'll do. The grass isn't always greener. And our players have built up a lot of equity here. With me, with our coaches, with our organization and then people, they're going to make the best decisions for their family, themselves, and that'll be life happening. But, hopefully they've enjoyed their season here and being a part of this team, and we'll see how it shakes out."
He was later asked about how much better he feels he knows the team as compared to last offseason:
How much better positioned are you this offseason to evaluate your team based on that you coached them all year, as opposed to last year, you came in and probably had to study the tape. How much more confident do you feel knowing the team?
"Significantly, and that's obvious. Do I know them? Yeah, I'm around them every day. Significantly more. There's equity built up in that."
The 49ers are in an interesting position given how this season went. They had a very solid year built around a cohesive unit. The team seemed to develop an atmosphere where most people were happy and enjoyed the situation. There were some instances of displeasure at times, but for the most part, everybody seemed to love Coach Harbaugh and the 49ers experience in 2011.
We've heard Carlos Rogers indicate he would consider a team discount given the situation. That does not mean everybody will take a little less to stick around, but it will make for an interesting February and March. Equity on one side of the equation does not guarantee sufficient equity on the other side.
Once some of these guys hit the open market, how easily does that equity get forgotten? Will we get to see some of Coach Harbaugh's college recruiting skills come into play?