General Manager Scot McCloughan held a conference call with local media on Thursday, discussing the start of free agency at 12:01EST tonight. Here's some of the news to report from the call.
McCloughan said that one of the unique aspects to free agency is that you can target guys by need, more so than the draft, where his philosophy is to take the best player available.
"Most definitely you are more targeted in free agency," said McCloughan. "Not just by position, but even more specific. You can say not only do you want a defensive back, but if you are looking for a corner, you could say you want a left corner or a right corner."
In terms of need, McCloughan offered up defensive line and offensive line as positions of need for the 49ers roster.
That begged the question of his thoughts on wide receiver. McCloughan said that he has had addressed wide receiver via free agency in the past (although in his words, "we haven't gotten out of it what we would have hoped") and would continue to do so. However, McCloughan said it's a position that is not overly deep in free agency, whereas it is a position he feels he can get in the draft.
McCloughan said that there is interest in having unrestricted free agents DE Marques Douglas and G Justin Smiley back, but that it would have to be "at the right price." Offers have not been made, but numbers with their agents have been discussed. Both players plan to test the free agency market and the 49ers have been asked to be kept in the loop.
McCloughan was asked about Larry Allen, and said that he has not spoken with the guard since the season ended. McCloughan does not expect for Allen to make a decision in terms of retirement until closer to camp.
"He has a value that we think he's worth," said McCloughan. "If he thinks he's worth more than that, he won't be a 49er. If he wants to come back and play for us and stick to the price we think he's worth, we'd love to have him."
McCloughan said there is no consideration to trade last year's starting left tackle Jonas Jennings, who ended the year on injured reserve. McCloughan said Jennings will compete for a starting position, and that it could be at left or right tackle.
McCloughan said that there has also not been a decision on quarterback Trent Dilfer. McCloughan said he has had several discussions with Dilfer, but that nothing has been decided. He plans to meet with Dilfer and Mike Nolan, "sooner, rather than later."
There was a buy-back clause in quarterback Alex Smith's contract which reserved the right for the 49ers to increase Smith's deal from a 4-year contract to a 6-year contract. The 49ers had until March 15 to decide whether or not they wanted to do so, but McCloughan revealed that the club has already decided to do so.
"It just shows that we believe in him to be our guy," McCloughan said. "He and Shaun are going to go out there and compete, and the winner of that is going to be a good quarterback for us."
Smith will see Dr. Andrews in Birmingham next week and is expected to be cleared to start throwing the football.
Some of the other questions ....
Q: The 49ers have been linked to Allen Rossum and DeShaun Foster. Has something been done with those guys?
A: Nothing is done. Once anything gets solidified, you'll be the first to know. There's nothing done right now, so I won't talk about it. It's all speculation right now.
Q: After re-signing Isaac Sopoaga, where do you plan to play him?
A: Ice can play a couple of positions for us. He played mainly nose last year, but he also has the ability to play end. With Bryant Young retiring and Marques hitting the market, he could play more end for us next year. A lot will depend on free agency and the draft and the numbers we end up with. He played his most consistent football this year and I think his best football is still in front of him as a nose and an end. He fits the left end more than a right end in terms of what we do, but he could play either.