© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The 49ers have a heavy challenge facing them this offseason. With limited cap space, San Francisco will be tasked with trying to retain and extend a few key players. Both DeForest Buckner and George Kittle are in line for massive contract extensions, and Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward and Emmanuel Sanders are all high-level free agents along with 11 other unrestricted free agents (with Ben Garland, Damontre Moore, Ronald Blair, Anthony Zettel and Sheldon Day composing the most notable other names).
Below are the key dates from the 49ers, including when the team has to decide whether to use the franchise tag on Armstead:
February 24 – March 2: NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
February 25: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition players.
March 10: Prior to 1:00 p.m. PT, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
March 16-18: Clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2019 player contracts at 1:00 p.m. PT on March 18.
March 18: Prior to 1:00 p.m. PT clubs must exercise options for 2020 on all players who have option clauses in their 2019 contracts.
March 18: Prior to 1:00 p.m. PT, clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
March 18: Prior to 1:00 p.m. PT, clubs must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2019 contracts who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.
March 18: Top 51 Rule begins. The Top 51 contracts based on value; along with other items. Rank the salary cap charges for each player in descending order, add up the highest 51 ranked charges. All clubs must be under the 2020 Salary Cap prior to 1:00 p.m. PT.
March 18: All 2019 player contracts will expire at 1:00 p.m. PT.
March 18: The 2020 league year and free agency period begins at 1:00 p.m. PT.
The first day of the 2020 league year will end at 8:59:59 p.m. PT on March 18. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the league office during the period between 1:00 p.m. PT and 8:59:59 p.m. PT on March 18.
March 18: Trading period for 2020 begins at 1:00 p.m. PT after expiration of all 2019 contracts.
March 29 – April 1: Annual League Meeting, Palm Beach, Fla.
April 17: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets.
April 20: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
April 23-25: 2020 NFL Draft, Las Vegas, Nev.
April 27: Beginning this date, NFL clubs may request permission to visit with, try out, or sign any player who was under contract to the XFL at the conclusion of the XFL season.
May 1-4: Clubs may elect to hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.
May 8-11: Clubs may elect to hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.
July 15: At 1:00 p.m. PT deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multi-year contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2020 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.