NFL Combine means the start of free agency, contract business

The NFL Combine is a big part of the draft process, but it also marks what one agent describes as the "unofficial" start of free agency. We break down what that means for the 49ers.

The 2014 NFL Combine is officially under way, and the San Francisco 49ers will have plenty of business to attend to in further preparing their 2014 NFL Draft board. The scouts have been pouring through game film, and the Combine provides a chance to add a little more to that, while also getting in some in-person interview time.

While all that is incredibly important, there is a second part of the Combine that is not discussed nearly as much. That is the interaction between the NFL teams and agents. We know that the teams and agents are well-represented at the Combine, which means there is plenty of time for chatting both during the workouts, and afterward at the nearby hotels.

There are two aspects to this that are worth noting. The first is the negotiations with a team's own free agents. I can't find the link anymore, but a few weeks back I recall seeing something saying that the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick's agents would more or less "officially" get the contract negotiations under way. There might have been informal discussions in the last month, but it sounds like this is when things will start to come to a head.

Speaking of that, it sounds like negotiations with Anquan Boldin might only just be starting. Last week, Matt Maiocco reported there had been some early discussions, but now PFT is reporting communications on an extension are expected to begin at the Combine. Maiocco had said, "the sides are negotiating a multi-year extension that could prevent Boldin from being available when free agents can begin negotiating with other teams on March 8." Believe who you want in this one.

Aside from a team's own free agents, there is an interesting article at National Football Post about the way the Combine works with free agency. Jack Bechta is an agent who writes about different related matters for NFP. He put together a great article about the realities of free agency negotiations compared to the rules in place. Although technically teams can't talk to agents until that three-day "tamper period" before free agency starts, according to Bechta, the NFL Combine is the "unofficial start of free agency":

This is where I/agents will have many closed-door meetings with teams who have an interest in our free agents. There are also meetings with teams trying to sign back their own free agents. The tricky part of this process for the team (trying to resign their own UFA) is not to set the floor price for the agent to go shop to other teams (which we will).

At a minimum, the agent wants to walk away from the Combine with three or more top teams interested in his UFA(s) and have a good idea of what the market will be for his client.

I recommend checking out the article because in reality it sounds like aspects of free agency research and discussion are actually beginning during the Senior Bowl, and only building from there. This is not a surprising revelation, but it's interesting to hear about it from the proverbial horse's mouth.

For now, all I'm looking for is information about the 49ers current free agents, and other players up for extensions. Whether it be Boldin, Kap, Crabtree, Miller, or whomever, I just want to see some good news!

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