When is the deadline to use the franchise tag (and will 49ers use it in 2024)?

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch (L) and head coach Kyle Shanahan (R)
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch (L) and head coach Kyle Shanahan (R) / Chris Unger/GettyImages

The 49ers haven't been afraid to use the franchise tag, but is there a situation where they'd want to apply it to a player in 2024?

The last time the San Francisco 49ers used the franchise tag on a player was back in 2019 when they applied it to veteran kicker Robbie Gould.

It was a temporary fix, locking Gould in prior to the start of NFL free agency while also extending the window of negotiating what turned into a new four-year contract to keep the specialist around for the long run.

There was also talk of potentially using the franchise tag on wide receiver Deebo Samuel as a means to hold onto the 2021 All-Pro amid his contract dispute the following offseason. Even though the receiver was still under contract through 2022, the Niners could have used it in order to retain him for at least another year.

San Francisco has a number of free agents potentially hitting the open market in 2024, so the franchise tag could be part of the discussion.

Related story: What is the NFL franchise tag, and how is it used?

What's there to know about this not-so-popular tool, and will the 49ers actually use it this offseason?

When is the deadline for NFL teams to use the franchise tag?

Teams can apply the franchise tag during a two-week window that begins on Tuesday, Feb. 20 and runs through Tuesday, March 5, the window opening just weeks before the start of the league new year on March 13.

Pending free agents are eligible for the tag unless they have specific verbiage in their contracts that block teams from applying the tag.

If a tag isn't applied to a pending free agent, he is free to sign with any team beginning March 13.

Will the 49ers use the franchise tag in 2024?

Of the list of Niners free agents this offseason, only a handful would reasonably command any sort of attention with regard to the franchise tag:

  • EDGE Chase Young
  • DT Javon Kinlaw
  • WR Ray-Ray McCloud

Even with those names, all of whom played notable roles in San Francisco's run up to the Super Bowl, it's still a stretch to think general manager John Lynch and Co. would apply the tag here.

According to Over the Cap, the fully guaranteed cost for a defensive end on a one-year tag is $23,348,000. For an interior lineman like Kinlaw, it's $19,753,000. For wide receivers, the number is $21,665,000.

None of those players would likely command anything close to that figure on the open market, meaning the 49ers are almost guaranteed to pass on applying the franchise tag to one of their free agents.

Especially considering they're already $3.72 million above the salary cap, currently.

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