49ers host free agents Edelman, Thurmond as cap space dwindles

49ers host free agents Edelman, Thurmond as cap space dwindles
March 14, 2014, 7:30 am
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Julian Edelman had six touchdowns last year; Walter Thurmond had one interception. (USATSI)

Programming note: NFL free agency is well underway! Check out Matt Maiocco's 49ers free agent tracker and watch SportsNet Central nightly at 6 and 10:30 p.m. for all the latest football news.

The 49ers are scheduled to host free-agent visits Friday with a pair of intriguing veterans who could fill spots at the wide receiver and cornerback positions.

New England wide receiver Julian Edelman is making his first trip this offseason to visit with a potential suitor, while Seattle cornerback Walter Thurmond comes to Santa Clara after meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The 49ers enter the day with $3.846 million in cap space. That figure includes kicker Phil Dawson’s reported two-year, $6.134 million contract, which includes a $2 million signing bonus and a first-year cap figure of $2 million.

[RELATED: Dawson agrees to terms with 49ers]

The 49ers’ cap situation should not be a deterrent toward getting veteran deals done with a wide receiver and cornerback. The team has the option of approaching any number of veteran players for contract conversions to replace base salaries with signing bonuses to create immediate cap room.

Because the 49ers released cornerback Carlos Rogers with a post-June 1 designation, they will carry his entire $8.094 million cap figure until that time. Only then, will the team realize its $6.6 million cap savings on Rogers’ contract.

[RELATED: 49ers to save $6.6 million by cutting Rogers]

Thurmond appears to be a good fit for the 49ers, as he could immediately step into Rogers’ role as the nickel back. In three seasons with the 49ers, Rogers started at left cornerback and moved inside to cover the slot receiver in nickel situations.

Thurmond would be expected to play the nickel back position and compete against Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver and Eric Wright for one of the 49ers' two starting cornerback jobs.

Edelman, a Redwood City native who was on the 49ers’ radar last season as a free agent, would become the 49ers’ primary slot receiver and could also replace LaMichael James as the team’s punt-return specialist. Edelman caught 105 passes for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns last season with the Patriots. He also averaged 10.7 yards on 35 punt returns and did not lose a fumble.

The 49ers are also interested in New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, ESPN reported. Nicks has also reportedly drawn interest from Carolina, Indianapolis and San Diego.

Any wide receiver added to the mix would join a 49ers pass-catching corps that already features Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin, as well as Quinton Patton, who enters his second season.

The 49ers also figure to address cornerback and wide receiver in the draft. The club has 11 picks, including an expected compensatory selection. The 49ers own five of the top 94 overall selections in the May 8-10 draft.