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49ers free agency: Does Tarell Brown return?

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The NFL is less than one week away from free agency beginning and all teams are trying to keep their share of soon-to-be free agents. Jason La Canfora reports that the 49ers are talking with Tarell Brown, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

For a team who has around $12 million in cap space, it appears the 49ers are trying to keep Brown to have stability in the secondary. Tramaine Brock signed a four-year contract extension last season, which solidified that he will be a starting CB for the time being.

Brown completed his rookie contract after making only $900,000 in 2013 after he lost $2 million for not practicing in OTAs during the offseason. The 49ers rewarded him with a $300,000 bonus at the end of the regular season to make up for his agent's mistake.

In 2013, Brown was a solid CB who was injured for a few weeks, but was playing well when he came back in Week 15. Despite suffering a ribs injury, he and Brock proved to be the top two cornerbacks on the 49ers. Carlos Rogers ended up regressing and became a frequent target by opposing defenses.

Brown will ask for more money than what Brock is making, which should be higher than $4 million per season. If the 49ers give Brown what he wants, they will have little wiggle room if they want to keep both Brown and Donte Whitner. Rogers should be a cap casualty which will free up room, but it won't give the 49ers flexibility on the free agent market.

Most believed that general manager Trent Baalke would let Brown walk in the free agent market and take a cornerback in 2014 NFL Draft. If Brown is re-signed, the 49ers top cornerbacks would be set with Brown and Brock as the starters. Fourth-year CB Chris Culliver would be penciled in as the nickel cornerback as he would come back from a torn ACL injury which he suffered last training camp.

The 49ers would address one of two needs on the defensive side the ball with safety being the other uncertainty. If the 49ers re-sign Brown before free agency, attention turns to Donte Whitner and the 49ers would begin to plan the draft for the WR position.

In order to stay, Brown would have to take a hometown discount, which wouldn't seem reasonable. Regardless of what happens to Brown, the 49ers will be ready whether it's through the draft in May or free agency next week.

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