Ranking 49ers' free-agent priorities

YSTL: Next player-personnel move for 49ers?

Ranking 49ers' free-agent priorities
March 7, 2014, 9:15 am
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With Anquan Boldin re-signed, Tarell Brown and Donte Whitner are the biggest priorities on the 49ers' offseason checklist. (AP)

With more than $10 million in salary cap space, the 49ers have some flexibility to be active in free agency.

So can the 49ers be active on the open market?

[RELATED: NFL free agency Q&A]

“That remains to be seen,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Our No. 1 focus is on taking care of our own players.”

And with 12 draft picks, a strong case can be made that it makes a lot more sense for the 49ers to fill holes in the draft, rather than paying extra on NFL veterans.

Coach Jim Harbaugh stated two weeks ago that wide receiver Anquan Boldin was the 49ers’ No. 1 priority. And the 49ers proved it with a two-year extension this week that will pay Boldin up to $6 million a year.

That figures to be the most money the 49ers will dole out for a player on the free-agent market.

Here is a look at the 49ers’ other scheduled free agents, in order of what the team appears likely to be willing to spend to retain them:

S Donte Whitner: He averaged $3.9 million on his previous three-year contract. The eight-year pro is looking for a “fair” contract. And if the 49ers’ offer – probably not too much more than his previous deal – is not competitive, he will be moving on.

CB Tarell Brown: Brown told CSNBayArea.com on Thursday that there is “nothing” going on with the 49ers as free agency approaches. The 49ers’ offer figures to be in the neighborhood of the $3.5 million-a-year extension they worked with Tramaine Brock in November. If Brown finds a team that values him more than the 49ers, the 49ers will likely target the draft to bolster the cornerback spot.

[RELATED: Brown closing in on open market]

K Phil Dawson: The veteran was paid $2.35 million last season, and he earned his keep with an outstanding season. That figures to be about the same kind of deal the 49ers will extend to him this season, too.

LB Michael Wilhoite (EFA): He’s an exclusive-rights free agent, which means he has no outside negotiating power. He will definitely be back this season, and the 49ers believe he is capable of handling the job of playing alongside Patrick Willis for as long as NaVorro Bowman is sidelined.

DL Demarcus Dobbs (RFA): The 49ers tendered Dobbs at $1.431 million, and have the right of first refusal, should another team sign him to an offer sheet. With Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial expected to make the roster and, possibly, contribute, it makes it very difficult for Dobbs to earn a spot despite his contributions on special teams.

OL Jonathan Goodwin: The 49ers’ intentions became obvious when they signed Daniel Kilgore to an extension last week. The team wants to get younger at the position. 

RB Anthony Dixon: He grew frustrated because of his lack of involvement in the offense. He would not get any better chance this season with a healthy Marcus Lattimore added to the mix, but he does have some value to the 49ers on special teams.

QB Colt McCoy: He made $1.5 million last season, and probably the only way he comes back to compete for a job is if he accepts a near-minimum deal.

WR Kassim Osgood: He provided good play on special teams as a gunner on punt coverage. The 49ers would be wise to bring him back on a minimum deal.

CB Eric Wright: Baalke really likes him, but the 49ers coaching staff had a lot more faith in Perrish Cox to walk in off the street and handle a role in the playoffs.

CB Perrish Cox (non-tendered RFA) : He is not a bad insurance policy as a nickel back and return man. He also can be added for a minimum salary.

WR Mario Manningham: In a strong draft class of wide receivers, there doesn’t appear to be a great demand to bring back Manningham, who never recovered from his knee injury of 2012.

FB Will Tukuafu (non-tendered RFA) : He spent most of the season on the street before coming to the team late in the season after fullback Bruce Miller’s injury. He can come back inexpensively. Tukuafu is signed through 2014, but the NFLPA's records do not reflect that. That error is in the process of being corrected.