Goldson is 49ers' top franchise candidate


The 49ers have two defensive backs chosen to play in the Pro Bowl. Both are scheduled for unrestricted free agency.The 49ers can use the franchise tag to all but assure they retain either safety Dashon Goldson or cornerback Carlos Rogers. And Goldson is clearly the most likely candidate.
Obviously, the 49ers would like to re-sign both Goldson and Rogers to multi-year contracts. And Goldson and Rogers have stated their preferences to return to the 49ers. But two sides that might want the same thing can easily get hung up on how to achieve it.This could be the case with the 49ers and those players.Free agents have every right to seek the most-lucrative contracts their agents can achieve. The careers of NFL players are so short, those players have to get what they can before they head into their second careers.Goldson and Rogers tied for the 49ers lead with six interceptions. Both had very good seasons. But Goldson is the player the 49ers would franchise because it would cost less and they currently have nobody on the team to take his spot if he were to leave.RELATED: Dashon Goldson 2011 game logsCarlos Rogers 2011 game logs
The franchise tag for safeties is expected to be 6.2 million for one year. The tag for cornerbacks will be around 10.6 million. So it would cost more than 4 million extra for the 49ers to franchise Rogers over Goldson.Plus, the 49ers have nobody behind Goldson to take his spot. The 49ers' third safety this past season was Reggie Smith, who is also scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.A team source told that the day after the season, the sides reached an understanding that Smith would look for an opportunity elsewhere. The 49ers are likely to sign another veteran safety to a minimum-type of contract andor select a backup safety in the draft.Meanwhile, the 49ers have a few more options at cornerback behind Rogers.The 49ers' third cornerback is Chris Culliver. The team believes he will be ready to start next season as a second-year player. Tarell Brown played well in his first full season as a starter. And the team's fourth cornerback, Tramaine Brock, will be back.RELATED: 2011 Game logs -- Chris CulliverTarell BrownTramaine Brock
Either way, the 49ers can be expected to look for cornerback depth in free agency and the draft. The club will not bring back eight-year veteran Shawntae Spencer at his scheduled 3.2 million salary for 2012. Spencer was active just nine times this season, and he did not suit up for either playoff game.It should be noted that neither Goldson nor Rogers will play in the Pro Bowl. Both cited minor injuries for not taking part in the game. Goldson had been bothered by an ankle sprain, while Rogers missed some practice time in recent weeks with a slight knee injury.

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