Although the big-ticket free agents go up for bid starting Thursday, the 49ers have already dipped into the bargain bin, according to reports linking them to running back DeShaun Foster and kick returner Allen Rossum.
ESPN's John Clayton reported the Foster deal Monday, saying that the contract could be announced within the next few days.
Foster, 28, has had at least 800 rushing yards for three consecutive seasons but has been slowed by injuries and fumble problems. The Caroliina Panthers released him Thursday.
If signed, the former second-round draft pick out of UCLA would be in line for the No. 2 job behind Frank Gore.
Rossum, meanwhile, has agreed to a two-year contract, according to the NFL Network. (The 49ers denied Monday that any deal has been signed.)
The 10-year veteran, cut Friday by the Pittsburgh Steelers, would fight to replace Michael Lewis as the 49ers' return man. Lewis is to be an unrestricted free agent.
Rossum, 32, made the Pro Bowl in 2004 while with the Atlanta Falcons; the Steelers acquired him for a conditional seventh-round choice last year.
With Pittsburgh, he ranked 24th in the NFL with a 23.3-yard return average - a total boosted by a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the 49ers in Week 3.
Released players become unrestricted free agents, meaning they can immediately sign with other teams. Players whose contracts have expired with their current teams can sign starting at 9 p.m. Pacific time Thursday.
The Foster and Rossum reports suggest the team is ready to move on without Maurice Hicks, a backup running back and return man. Hicks is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.
A 49ers spokesman declined to address the reports, citing the team's policy of not commenting about ongoing negotiations.