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San Francisco 49ers 2014 NFL free agency primer: 49ers look to get over the top

NFL free agency gets started on Tuesday, March 11. We take a look at the 49ers situation heading into the craziest time of the year.

Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

NFL free agency kicks off at 1 p.m. PT today! We've made it through the first down period of the NFL offseason, and I think we're just about in one piece!

The San Francisco 49ers head into free agency with some questions to answer, but as usual, I suspect we won't see much in the way of significant outside additions. The 49ers will kick some tires, and I'm sure we'll hear them connected to some notable free agents, but history tells us the team will stick with more under-the-radar deals. They could surprise this time around, but is there really any reason to think things will change this year?

We'll have a whole ton of posts over the coming days and weeks, but for now, I figured I'd open with a bit of an FAQ. Even as the 49ers sit right on the cusp of a championship, there is still a lot to be figured out this offseason. The team will return a ton of talent, but we're looking at potentially significant turnover in a couple areas.

2014 NFL Free Agency FAQ

When does free agency start?

The signings kick off at 1 p.m. PT. Teams have been negotiating with agents the last three days, but technically players can officially meet and speak with teams directly at this point. Technically the rules state a team can only speak with an agent Saturday through Tuesday morning of the negotiation period. And technically there can be no "offers", but only exchanges of positions. It's a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. As always, someone will sign at about 1:05 p.m. and nobody will bat an eye.

How much cap space do the 49ers have?

This number will change depending on how the Carlos Rogers situation plays out. As it currently stands, per our man Jason Hurley from Niner Cap Hell, the 49ers have a little over $9.1 million in space. If the 49ers release Rogers between now and 1 p.m. PT, thus not getting the June 1st designation, the 49ers would save just over $5.1 million in cap space, with no 2015 dead money. If they release him with the June 1st designation, they would save $6.6 million, but then would face $1.5 million in 2015 dead money. The numbers even out, but it's a matter of opening up space now, or just biting the bullet on the remaining money.

However it plays out, the 49ers will be looking at between $14.2 million and $15.7 million in salary cap space with their current roster.

Who are the 49ers free agents?

The 49ers got their deal done with wide receiver Anquan Boldin last week, but they have gotten no other deals done. Here are the team's current free agents:

Unrestricted Free agents

CB Tarell Brown
K Phil Dawson
RB Anthony Dixon
C Jonathan Goodwin
WR Mario Manningham
QB Colt McCoy
WR Kassim Osgood
S Donte Whitner
CB Eric Wright

Restricted Free Agents

CB Perrish Cox
DL Demarcus Dobbs - tendered contract, can negotiate with other teams

Exclusive Rights Free Agents

LB Michael Wilhoite - tendered contract, cannot negotiate with other teams

Who are cap casualty candidates?

The most notable is Carlos Rogers. Josina Anderson has already reported the 49ers cornerback is going to be released. The question now is when. If the team releases him before 1 p.m. PT, he cannot be given the June 1st designation. If he is released after 1 p.m. PT, he CAN be given that designation. That spreads his cap hit over two seasons instead of one.

Frank Gore is technically a candidate for a restructuring of his deal, but there is little to no chance he gets released. And I actually would be surprised if they re-did his deal. He is on the last year of his contract, so rather than extend him out with no assurance he'll finish those seasons, the 49ers can ride this deal out, and figure out the next step after the season.

What are the 49ers positions of need?

Like minds can differ on some of the specifics, but as it currently stands, the 49ers most important needs are:

1. Cornerback
2. Strong Safety
3. Kicker

After that, the team has starting options, but can use depth in other areas. The next level of needs would include:

1. Backup quarterback
2. Inside linebacker
3. Interior offensive linemen

Some would argue defensive line needs to be addressed. I can see the need for long-term options beyond just Tank Carradine, but if the team is going to address the defensive line, I see it more likely to happen

How to track free agency news

1. Niners Nation
2. @NinersNation on Twitter
3. NinersNation on Facebook
4. NN National Media Twitter list
5. NN 49ers Media Twitter list
6. NN 49ers Player Twitter list (sometimes they'll drop hints)

And what do we all need come this time of year?