USA Today NFL writer Tom Pelissero is reporting on Twitter that the San Francisco 49ers are going to place tenders on restricted free agent Demarcus Dobbs and exclusive rights free agent Michael Wilhoite. The team had until Tuesday to make these decisions. Dobbs' tender is worth $1.431 million, and Wilhoite's is worth $570,000.
A restricted free agent is a player who has completed his rookie contract, but only has three accrued seasons. An exclusive rights free agent is a player who completes his rookie contract with fewer than three accrued seasons. An accrued season means any playing season for which a player received credit toward free agency. A player is credited with that season when "he was on, or should have been on, full pay status for a total of three or more regular season games." That means if you spend a full season on the practice squad, you do not qualify for a credited season.
Dobbs can look for a new deal elsewhere, but the 49ers have retained the right to match any offer. If they elected not to match an offer, they would get no compensation. The odds are pretty good that Dobbs ends up signing the one year tender. That would make him an unrestricted free agent next offseason. RFAs simply do not get many offers. Dobbs primarily plays special teams, but this past season he started to work his way into the defensive line rotation. Tony Jerod-Eddie moved past him on the depth chart, but both guys rotated in for Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. I'm a little surprised the team tendered Dobbs, but they obviously place value on him. Although Dobbs is not looking like a starter anytime soon, this could mean the 49ers are even less inclined to grab a defensive lineman early in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Wilhoite has no negotiating power with his tender. He can sign the tender, or not play football. If he plays through the 2014 season, I believe he will be a restricted free agent in 2015. He is likely the front-runner to fill in for NaVorro Bowman during the linebacker's recovery from his ACL tear. Nick Moody will get a chance as well, and I suspect the team adds a veteran or a late round draft pick. However, I think Wilhoite will end up handling the work.