Return of Ricky Jean Francois to 49ers Not a Sure Thing

Competition for defensive lineman released by Colts will come from Seattle and Washington

When Ricky Jean Francois left the 49ers after the 2012 season, he was signed by the Colts and played well in Indianapolis.

This past season, over 16 games, he had three sacks, was in on 28 tackles and had a fumble recovery. The defensive lineman was a strong player for the Colts, but became a salary-cap casualty because of the $5.5 million he was due to make in the 2015 season.

Immediately upon his release, many predicted a perfect landing spot for him would be San Francisco, where he played his first NFL seasons out of LSU as a seventh-round pick of the 49ers in 2009. He’s familiar with the system, played under Jim Tomsula and would fill a need, with one defensive end, Ray McDonald, released, and another, Justin Smith, contemplating retirement.

But that may not be a slam dunk.

Jean Francois’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told the Indianapolis Star this week that there is a “healthy market in free agency” for his client – which could include re-signing with Indianapolis at a lesser salary.

In addition to the 49ers – who are scheduled to meet with Jean Francois – Washington and Seattle also are reported to be bringing him in for interviews.

Seattle is looking for depth on its defensive line and Jean Francois, 28, would fit nicely as a rotational player up front. Washington, meanwhile, is facing the loss of two of its top defensive linemen in free agency, so Jean Francois could plug a hole. In addition, new Washington general manager Scot McCloughan, formerly of the 49ers, drafted Jean Francois.

Jean Francois certainly seems open to new possibilities.

After being released by the Colts, he tweeted: “Good morning. Every end has a start. Every start has a decision. Every decision has a reason. And every reason has a meaning.” Then, he followed up with more tweets about phone calls being made and re-tweeted reports of NFL teams with interest in his services.

Jean Francois may still return to San Francisco. That possibility still makes sense. But it appears there will be heavy competition for his services.

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