Report: San Francisco 49ers Not Likely To Retain 3 Restricted Free Agents


Dec 29, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco 49ers fullback Will Tukuafu (48) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With the new league year set to begin on March 11, the San Francisco 49ers have some decisions to make regarding three players set to become restricted free agents and one exclusive-rights free agent.

According to, the 49ers will retain the rights to exclusive-rights free agent linebacker Michael Wilhoite.

But it is unlikely the team will retain rights of first refusal for defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs, cornerback Perrish Cox or fullback Will Tukuafu.

In order to retain those rights, the 49ers would have to tender $1.431 million offers, something considered a bit pricey for the 49ers, who are projected to have a little less than $12 million in cap space heading into free agency. (h/t USA Today).

Wilhoite, 28, started two games last season and had 37 tackles and one pass defensed. He has been with the 49ers since he was signed as an undrafted free agent in December 2011 following a career at Division II Washburn University in Kansas. He spent 12 weeks on the practice squad in 2012 before earning a promotion to the active roster for the final five games.

Wilhoite is expected to play a more significant role in 2014 with All-Pro NaVorro Bowman expected to miss at least part of the season after a major knee injury sustained in the NFC Championship.

Dobbs, 26, played in 15 games last season and had 17 tackles and a pass defensed. He sat out the opener after being suspended for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse. He made the 49ers roster in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia.

Cox, 27, had two stints with San Francisco last season. He was released to make room for linebacker Nick Moody on Nov. 12, and was resigned for the postseason after Carlos Rogers was injured in the season finale at Arizona. Cox had six tackles and two passes defensed in nine games for the 49ers, while making three tackles in two games for the Seahawks, who signed him on Nov. 26, cut him on Nov. 27, re-signed him Dec. 11 and cut him again on Dec. 27.

He originally signed with the 49ers in March 2012 and played 16 games as a reserve with the Super Bowl squad in 2012, making 13 tackles. He was originally a fifth-round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2010 out of Oklahoma State and after playing in 15 games and starting nine, he was released by Denver among the final cuts coming out of the preseason in 2011.

Tukuafu, 30, re-signed with the 49ers after fullback Bruce Miller injured his shoulder late in the season against the Buccaneers. He played parts of three seasons with San Francisco, working on the defensive line and at fullback as well as seeing some time as a blocking tight end.