Programming note: NFL free agency begins today at 1 p.m. Watch SportsNet Central nightly at 6 and 10:30 p.m. for all the latest football news.
Safety Donte Whitner expects to sign with his hometown Cleveland Browns, a source close to Whitner told Cleveland.com on Tuesday.
A source told CSNBayArea.com that the 49ers had budgeted a little more than $4 million annually to retain Whitner, who originally signed a three-year, $11.4 million deal with the 49ers in 2011. The free-agent signing period opens Tuesday at 1 p.m. (PT).
"This would be a chance for him to come back home and give back to the community,'' the source told Cleveland.com. "He feels it's his responsibility to make his hometown a better place.''
In three seasons with the 49ers, the hard-hitting Whitner started all but one game and recorded five interceptions. He was chosen as a Pro Bowl starter in 2012.
Rookie Eric Reid, a starter last season, and veteran backups Craig Dahl and C.J. Spillman are the only 49ers safeties with NFL experience on the roster.