The NFL has been relatively quiet the last two weeks following the Super Bowl. However, today can count as an unofficial start of the offseason news. Teams are officially allowed to start placing franchise and transition tags on free agents. They have until March 3 to decide on their franchise and transition tags. Once the tag is placed, teams have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract with the player. After that, the player can only sign a one-year deal for the 2014 season.
The San Francisco 49ers are highly unlikely to use their franchise tag. Guys like Donte Whitner, Anquan Boldin, Tarell Brown are the only real candidates, and even they are long-shots at best. Phil Dawson will not get the tag because it would be his third such tagging, which means he would get the highest player tender available (approximately $16.2 million for quarterbacks).
Anquan Boldin seems more likely to get an extension done without needing to resort to the franchise tag. As for Brown and Whitner, I think the 49ers are willing to let both hit the market rather than lock themselves into any kind of guarantee at this point. Of course, next year opens the door for some franchise tag opportunities. Colin Kaepernick, Michael Crabtree and Mike Iupati are the three biggest names. Aldon Smith will wrap up the fourth year of his rookie deal, but look for the 49ers to exercise their fifth year option this year.
Gregg Rosenthal put together some of his thoughts on who might get franchised this year. He sees TE Jimmy Graham, DE Greg Hardy and CB Brent Grimes as locks to get the tag. After that, he is not certain, but predicts tags will be placed guys like S T.J. Ward, S Jairus Byrd, TE Dennis Pitta, CB Vontae Davis, OT Jared Veldheer, DE Michael Bennett, and LB Brian Orakpo. I would be a little surprised to see Bennett get the tag, but the Seahawks have said he is a priority for them. If they can't come to terms on a deal, maybe they use the tag.
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