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SF, Nolan prepared to move quickly in Free Agency (1 Viewer)


By Roger Phillips, STAFF WRITER

Inside Bay Area

The NFL's current self-inflicted crisis might be to the San Francisco 49ers' advantage.

Coach Mike Nolan acknowledged as much Wednesday during a conference call to discuss Friday's scheduled start of the free-agent season.

If the NFL fails to extend its collective bargaining agreement before then, the 2006 salary cap might be around $94 million. If there is an extension, it might be as much as $10 million higher.

With no resolution, teams in good cap shape will be at an advantage and teams in bad cap shape will have to unload players to come into compliance. As of Wednesday, the 49ers were $17.4 million under the $92 million cap, the fifth-best position of any team, and Nolan said the team will not need to release any players if there is no CBA extension.

By contrast, the Raiders are in the worst shape, at $26 million over the cap.

Nolan said he and personnel chief Scot McCloughan are preparing as if there will be no CBA extension, drawing up a list of players they believe might suddenly be on the open market. A number of established veterans were released Wednesday by teams over the cap, and Nolan acknowledged "communication" with representatives for some of them.

"The complexion of the whole thing could change dramatically if all of a sudden someone becomes a free agent that you had not expected," Nolan said.

Nolan added that the 49ers are prepared to move quickly once free agency begins.

"If anyone's sitting around today thinking, 'Well, let's see what happens,' they're going to miss out," Nolan said. "Everyone's got to be revving their engines right now."

He said the team hopes to sign free agents who immediately can be plugged into the starting lineup.

On a different front, the 49ers have identified two new candidates — New Orleans senior football administrator Russ Ball and former Cleveland cap guru Lal Heneghan — for their yet-to-be-titled front-office position.

Ball has spent 17 years in the NFL with four teams, and with the Saints has been responsible for managing the salary cap and negotiating contracts.

Heneghan's last NFL job was as the cap manager and chief contract negotiator for Cleveland, a stint that ended with his firing nearly two years ago by then-Browns coach Butch Davis.

Ball and Heneghan are the third and fourth candidates for the position. Seattle executive Mike Reinfeldt reportedly turned down an offer from the 49ers, and Atlanta's Ray Anderson withdrew from consideration.

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