The 49ers have found the right enticements -- combinations of salary, guaranteed money and incentives -- to prevent three notable players scheduled for restricted free agency from getting that far.
In the case of Harris, he has a chance to fight for a role as a starter if the 49ers do not re-sign Jaquiski Tartt and he can beat out Tarvarius Moore or any other player the 49ers add to the defensive backfield.
That leaves two more restricted free agents whose immediate futures are uncertain: Quarterback Nick Mullens and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley.
The open negotiating period for NFL free agents is scheduled to begin Monday, March 15. Players are first allowed to sign with new teams on Wednesday, March 17.
Moseley, 24, is the best bet to return to the 49ers as a starting cornerback because he is the only cornerback over whom the 49ers hold some control.
Jason Verrett, Richard Sherman, K’Waun Williams, Ahkello Witherspoon and Dontae Johnson are scheduled for unrestricted free agency. The 49ers’ top priorities to re-sign are likely Verrett and Williams. Sherman has stated he does not expect to be back with the 49ers in 2021.
Moseley generally played well in 2019 and eventually beat out Witherspoon late in the season and took over as the 49ers’ starter in the playoffs.
Last year, Moseley opened the season as the starter opposite of Sherman. But he missed four games due to a concussion and a hamstring injury. He started eight of the 12 games in which he appeared.
If the 49ers are unable to reach an agreement, such as the ones they worked out with Wilson, Dwelley and Harris, the 49ers are likely to place a restricted free-agent tender on Moseley.
An original round tender of approximately $2.2 million gives the 49ers the right to match the contract terms of any offer sheet he might sign with another team. Because Moseley entered the league in 2018 as an undrafted rookie, the 49ers would not receive any compensation if they determined they were not going to match the offer.
The club could seemingly assure Moseley’s return with a second-round tender, which would cost approximately $3.4 million for one season. Any team that would sign Moseley to an offer sheet would be forced to give up a second-round draft pick if the 49ers did not match the offer.
Mullens is the 49ers’ other scheduled restricted free agent, and his situation is a bit more complex.
Mullens underwent elbow surgery that is expected to keep him sidelined through June. Because of the uncertainty of Mullens’ physical condition and all the other uncertainty this offseason with a shrinking salary cap, the best bet is that the 49ers take a wait-and-see approach. The team can afford to take a cautious approach to see how his recovery is going before making any decision.
General manager John Lynch has suggested the 49ers must improve their depth behind Jimmy Garoppolo.
Mullens has physical limitations, but Shanahan has spoken highly of his ability to read coverages, execute the plan and make the decisions to throw to the correct target.
In his three NFL seasons, Mullens started 16 of the 19 games in which he appeared. His completion percentage is 64.5 with 25 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. His career passer rating is a respectable 87.2.
C.J. Beathard, who served as the 49ers’ No. 3 quarterback, is scheduled for unrestricted free agency.
The club currently has Josh Rosen and Josh Johnson on the roster behind Garoppolo.
When free agency begins, the 49ers could look into adding another veteran quarterback as insurance. Mitchell Trubisky, Andy Dalton, Jacoby Brissett, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Alex Smith are among those available in free agency.