Only 10 days from the deadline for teams to franchise players, the first prospective free agent is about to be removed from the market.
The 49ers will franchise defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, according to NFL sources. The franchise tag for defensive tackles this year is $7 million, and teams must designate their franchise players by Feb. 25.
Until the tag is applied to Franklin, the 49ers will try to work out a long-term contract for their standout defensive tackle.
Their newest long-term offer for Franklin is expected to come in this week. However, one league source highly doubted that any type of long-term agreement could be struck and the 49ers will franchise Franklin, who would have been one of the most desirable free agents had he been allowed to test the market.
It is what could be the start in a string of franchise tags for defensive tackles. The New England Patriots are reportedly expected to slap their franchise tag on defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and the Pittsburgh Steelers could do the same with defensive tackle Casey Hampton.
At the age of 29, Franklin specializes in freeing up blockers for 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. Franklin started all 16 games for the 49ers last season and had 36 tackles.