As the final 30 minutes of the two-week franchise-tag window tick-tock away, the 49ers won’t be applying their tag to safety Donte Whitner. Per a league source, Whitner will not be subject to that restriction on otherwise unrestricted free agency.
It means that, absent a new deal, the team will potentially lose Whitner to another team in the same way they lost safety Dashon Goldon a year ago.
Whitner’s value on the open market isn’t clear at this point. With Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward available (unless one or both is tagged in the next 30 minutes), Whitner likely will be getting less than either of them.
And while Whitner can still run, lingering concerns about his instincts and ball skills could make it hard for him to get a deal that cracks $6 million per year in annual value.
Working in Whitner’s favor is the fact that he’s still only 28, and that he has established a reputation as being a big hitter. Based on what the Seahawks did last year, that’s an important skill to bring to any defensive secondary.
As of right now, Whitner could be bringing that specific skill to a secondary other than the one in San Francisco.