SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, absent since the start of training camp, may soon be joining his San Francisco 49ers teammates.
According to FOXSports.com and ESPN, Franklin is expected to arrive in the Bay Area on Saturday to undergo a physical and sign his $7.003-million tender.
Franklin was franchised by the 49ers but hoped to sign a long-term contract. He and the team were unable to reach an agreement, and Franklin sat out the first four weeks of camp rather than report. Because he did not have a contract, he could not be fined.
The Niners have been using Ricky Jean-Francois at nose tackle in the preseason, but there was never a question that Franklin would report and risk losing a sizable paycheck. The question is, how difficult will it be for him to get up to speed with the defense?
“He’s been in this system for four years,” teammate Takeo Spikes said. “He’ll be ready to play.”
Franklin had a career-high 88 tackles, two sacks and one interception last season. He won’t play Saturday night when the 49ers meet the Oakland Raiders, but defensive coordinator Greg Manusky it’s important to get him some game action once he returns.
”With all the banging that takes place during training camp, the biggest thing is getting his wind back,” said Manusky, who said he had not spoken to Franklin. “When you miss camp and play in the preseason games, even though some of the starters are only getting 15 or 16 plays, at least they’re back in a rhythm and getting that groove back. You can’t really replicate that out here, but he’ll be fine.”
READY TO PLAY: Coach Mike Singletary said running backs Frank Gore and Brian Westbrook and wide receiver Michael Crabtree will play Saturday against the Raiders. The game will mark the first preseason appearance for all three.