Since the middle of training camp, the 49ers have signed two of their scheduled free agents to contract extensions. Each player's negotiating power was impacted by recent injuries.
On Monday, the 49ers signed running back Kendall Hunter, who tore an ACL early in training camp, to a one-year extension.
In August, two weeks after sustaining a torn biceps, nose tackle Glenn Dorsey agreed to remain with the 49ers through the 2016 season.
With the second half of the season upon us, it seems unlikely the 49ers will complete any other contract extensions during the season.
A source said the 49ers have not completely cut off negotiations, but arriving at new deals becomes more difficult the closer a player gets to unrestricted free agency -- and a potential bigger payday.
Here is where things stand with some of the 49ers’ top scheduled free agents:
RB Frank Gore: There is no way the 49ers will pay Gore the same $6.45 million salary he made in the final two seasons of his contract. But there is no way any other team would pay him that much, either. There simply will not be much demand for a 32-year-old running back that has more than 2,600 touches in his career.
There figures to be some big changes with the 49ers in the offseason. At some point, the organization will turn the run game over to Carlos Hyde. This could be the offseason in which the 49ers make that difficult decision?
The combination of Hyde and Hunter could be very effective. The 49ers have selected a running back in the past six drafts, and that trend could continue, too.
WR Michael Crabtree: The first half of the season was a forgettable eight-game stretch for Crabtree, whose production was matched by Stevie Johnson with less than half of the playing time. The 49ers expected Crabtree to have his best season, more than one year removed from an Achilles injury that wiped out most of last season.
But Crabtree still does not look explosive. He is averaging just 9.8 yards per reception. And his seven dropped passes ranks tied for second-worst in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
With Anquan Boldin signed at $6 million for next season and Johnson on the books for $6.025 million in pay, it’s seems unreasonable the 49ers would top those numbers for Crabtree. He appears destined for free agency, and it’s difficult to imagine the 49ers will offer him the largest contract among his potential suitors.
G Mike Iupati: The 49ers are very mindful of their salary structure, so they are reluctant to pay Iupati more than what they have paid their offensive tackles, according to a source. That means they are not inclined to offer Iupati more than tackle Anthony Davis, who averages $6.52 million annually on his contract.
Early in the season, Iupati was still bothered by the fractured leg he sustained in the NFC Championshp game. He had dominant games in Weeks 4 and 5 against Philadelphia and Kansas City before sustaining a concussion that sent him back to the sideline. Iupati was the only offensive lineman who held up his end of the bargain on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.
Because top-flight tackles rarely hit free agency, Iupati could see a major pay day on the open market. It will be difficult for the 49ers to hold onto him. Perhaps they were thinking along those lines when they selected Clemson guard Brandon Thomas in the fourth round. Thomas sustained a torn ACL in a pre-draft workout but should be 100 percent for the 2015 season.
CB Perrish Cox
CB Chris Culliver
Cox and Culliver are both starters. Cox has played very well after taking over for Tramaine Brock, whose season was derailed in Week 1 by a “turf toe” injury. Culliver, returning from a torn ACL that wiped out his 2013 season, has been inconsistent.
Cox might not even be in the NFL if it weren’t for his former Denver Broncos position coach Ed Donatell and the 49ers organization giving him a chance after he was acquitted of sexual assault charges in 2012.
Cox can probably be re-signed as a starter for a reasonable salary.
The 49ers might not consider Culliver as a long-term starter if Cox returns and Brock gets healthy.
Other scheduled unrestricted free agents
--QB Blaine Gabbert: He is “neck and neck” for the backup job with Josh Johnson, according to Jim Harbaugh. But with a guaranteed salary of more than $2 million, he was never in danger of losing his job.
--QB Josh Johnson: He is a less-expensive alternative to Gabbert. The 49ers have repeatedly released and re-signed Johnson this season, and no team has signed him. Johnson has a legitimate shot at being the No. 2 next season if he returns.
--WR Brandon Lloyd: Boldin, Johnson, Bruce Ellington and Quinton Patton are under contract for next season. While Lloyd is doing just fine as the No. 3-4 receiver, his re-signing does not appear to be a high priority.
--CB Chris Cook: He served his purpose after coming to the 49ers on a one-year deal. Cook sustained a season-ending torn hamstring two weeks ago. But he proved he can fill a role as a minimum-salary-type of player to serve in a reserve role.
--OLB Dan Skuta: Ahmad Brooks’ salary places his spot on next season’s team in doubt. Aaron Lynch could emerge as an every-down player. Skuta is a valuable backup and special-teams contributor who adds value to the roster.
--DL Demarcus Dobbs: He was among the team’s inactive players on Sunday. When Glenn Dorsey returns to the 53-man roster, Dobbs’ spot for the remainder of this season will be in jeopardy.