With eight months until the next NFL season, here is a look at some of the tough choices Trent Baalke, Jim Harbaugh and company must make on impending free agents. Should they re-sign this players or not? As always, feel free to disagree in the comments section or @Doug_Totten.
“Pay the man!” Jim Harbaugh famously responded to an inquiry on Dawson’s status with the 49ers. I think that will be the case. Kickers can last a while and the 49ers could use the same stability Dawson brought to the team this past year. Do not be surprised if he is brought back with rookie competition in training camp. If a rookie looks good, then Dawson could walk, but that would be after a new contract is signed this winter.
Prediction: Dawson re-signs on a 2-3 year deal.
The aging center has stated his desire to retire and his desire to return should the 49ers give him a call. A big component in this decision will be the comfort level the front office has with his potential replacement, Daniel Kilgore. Mike Iupati‘s impending new contact will probably impact this as well.
Prediction: Goodwin retires and enjoys his family. Kilgore steps up and a late-rounder is used on an interior offensive lineman.
If the revolving door at third-string quarterback was any indication, the 49ers were not comfortable with Colt McCoy as a lone backup this past year. He also took a paycut to stay with the team. I do not see him returning, though perhaps he could for a minimal salary.
Prediction: McCoy becomes a backup somewhere else.
With Quinton Dial and Tank Carradine set to play a lot next season, and with Vance McDonald having the second tight-end spot locked up, it seems unlikely Dobbs will have a roster spot in 2014.
Prediction: Dobbs will be a backup playing good minutes, just not in San Francisco.
Dixon has greatly improved over the past few seasons, but with Marcus Lattimore set to make his debut next season in an already crowded backfield, Dixon might not have anywhere to fit in. He probably wants to go somewhere where he will get more playing time, too.
Prediction: Dixon becomes a highly sought-after free agent on the open market.
Brown wanted too much money in contract negotiations mid-season, so Tramaine Brock got $4 million a year and has played his butt off since. Carlos Rogers has a big cap number and may find the ax, but if that does not happen, and if Brown sees more than what the 49ers offer elsewhere, do not expect him to take a pay cut.
Prediction: Brown becomes another overpaid cornerback on a struggling team.
Whitner has meant the world to this 49ers’ D since being signed in Harbaugh’s first season. Could the 49ers really let him walk? He has expressed his desire to stay, the 49ers’ players, coaching staff, and front office have all expressed a desire to keep him here. I may be underestimating the almighty dollar, but I think they can work it out.
Prediction: Whitner’s reps and Trent Baalke spend many hours staring at each other from across the table before Whitner finally pulls a Michael Crabtree and ends it. He stays.
A gifted gunner on special teams, Osgood just may be too replaceable to have a spot next year on the 49ers. It will, in all likelihood, come down to a simple matter of how much the 49ers value him. I do not think they value him as much as he would like.
Prediction: Osgood leaves the Bay Area and becomes a fan-favorite elsewhere, though we likely will not hear much about him again.
The cornerback could easily walk if given a good contract. I just do not think it will be there. He was a bargain for the 49ers after his legal trouble, and other teams likely will not want to sign him with that cloud hanging over his head. The 49ers, though, have made their peace with it.
Prediction: Wright recognizes the importance of stability in his current situation and signs a team-friendly deal fairly quickly.
Wilhoite is a talented linebacker and special teams player. He has one big problem: as an ILB he is behind two future hall-of-famers. He would definitely have a role for San Francisco next season, but with 13 draft picks, I see the 49ers looking younger and cheaper.
Prediction: 49ers want him back, just not quite enough. He walks.
Injury problems plagued the 2013 campaign for Manningham–to the point where he might not be able to play again. Barring a shocking bill of good health, Manningham is done with the 49ers, if not with the game.
This is the most difficult decision facing the 49ers this offseason. Boldin, it could be argued, was the only reason the 49ers had any success for most of the season. Boldin may have had one of the best seasons of his extremely underrated career, but he also could be nearing the end of it. He is currently 33 and, if he demands a price tag equivalent to the $6 million he cost the 49ers this past year, I do not think he will remain in San Francisco. However, I am not sure he will command such a salary on the open market. If his figure can come down by about half, to $3-4 million, I expect the 49ers to keep him around.
Prediction: Boldin stays, with a significant pay cut.
The 49ers have several players with one year left on their deals, including Colin Kaepernick, Iupati, Michael Crabtree, and Aldon Smith. Some tough decisions will have to be made. It will be an eventful offseason at 4949 Centennial Boulevard in Santa Clara.