The 49ers are preparing for a number of key free agents to hit free agency, but it sounds like the franchise tag isn't a realistic option for bringing back any of them.
Per Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, the franchise tag "does not appear to be a realistic option" for Frank Gore, Mike Iupati or Michael Crabtree.
For Gore and Crabtree, the decision is relatively simple - neither played well enough in 2014 to justify giving them a salary worth the average of the Top 5 earners at their position. For Iupati, his production is definitely closer to the franchise tag range...but the Niners have a fairly rigid salary structure in place for their offensive linemen, and effectively quadrupling Iupati's salary to keep him around for one more season is something that Trent Baalke reportedly just isn't interested in doing.
The 49ers have in-house replacements for Gore (Carlos Hyde) and Iupati (Brandon Thomas) waiting in the wings, but Crabtree will be tougher to replace simply because the 49ers don't have much depth at wide receiver. Steve Johnson is the only player on the roster with significant experience at WR, and the team is expected to add at least two wide receivers this Spring through free agency and the NFL Draft.
Of the three, Gore has the best chance to be in San Francisco next season, with Crabtree already having one foot out the door and Iupati likely to depart as well.
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