Raiders, 49ers Get Back to Football

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers will have their work cut out for them. The fans however are ready. Here fans cheer as the 49ers took on the Raiders during last year's preseason game.

    With reports that the NFL lockout is coming to an end, what's next for the two Bay Area teams?

    Both the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers have a lot of work to do to improve upon seasons that ended before the playoffs began.

    For the Raiders, there is reason for optimism. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is back but this time as the head coach.

    He has mostly the same players returning for a second season and quarterback Jason Campbell was active working out with his teammates during the lockout.

    The team should get some added help in the backfield and possibly on kick returns with speedster and local product Taiwan Jones joining the Raiders through the draft.

    The team has to decide about bringing restricted free agent Michael Bush back to the backfield and it must move quick to retain free agent tight end Zach Miller, who almost reached an extension with the Raiders before the lock out.

    On defense the Raiders most likely will lose All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha but the team was active before the lockout began retaining its own players, including Richard Seymour and Stanford Routt.

    The San Francisco 49ers on the other hand may have more questions. The team did not reup any of its pending free agents before the lockout began.

    And the most active player for the team during the off season, Alex Smith, is without a contract. Priority No. 1 for the Jim Harbaugh and company is to resign Smith and officially install both a new offense and a new defense.

    Most of last year's offensive starters are returning, with Smith expected to be the team's starting quarterback.

    On defense is where most of the 49ers question lie. The team drafted rush specialist Aldon Smith but his learning curve could be steep as he tries to switch from a defensive end in college to a 3-4 linebacker.

    The team is also poised to lose linebacker Manny Lawson, nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin and possibly safety Dashon Goldson.

    Beyond that the team has a secondary problem and its top cornerback, Nate Clements -- who by most standards underperformed last year -- is due more than $7 million in base salary and more than another $7 million in easily reached bonuses.

    The 49ers are expected to ask Clements to renegotiate his deal but if he refuses, they will be forced to hit the free agent market and shop for a replacement,.

    But don't expect San Francisco to chase Asomugha, if Clements' salary allocation is freed up. The Raiders cornerback is expected to be one of the most sought after free agents on a crazy market.

    And 49ers President Jed York has said his team will not be big spenders once free agency opens.

    Regardless, both teams will have to sign some players once the lockout lifts. As part of the new labor agreement, not only is there expected to be a $120 million salary cap for each team but there is also expected to be a player-requested salary floor of about $110.

    The salary floor means for the first time, every NFL team will be required to spend within $10 million of each other.