SANTA CLARA -- The last time the 49ers got over the hump and won a Super Bowl, they did so after signing a parade of high-priced free agents led by Deion Sanders.
Don't count on them resurrecting that formula in their current quest for the Lombardi Trophy.
Re-signing their own players and drafting well are general manager Trent Baalke's go-to moves in roster construction.
Free agency? It's never ignored, but the 49ers aren't shopping for a slew of outside help, as they did with Deion & Co. in 1994. Contract negotiations open Saturday, and formal signings start Tuesday.
"Like we've always maintained, our No. 1 objective in offseason is to take care of our own guys," Baalke said recently. "We identify the guys we feel we need on our team moving forward, then find a way to make it work and fit from a financial standpoint. It's no different this season."
They already identified wide receiver Anquan Boldin as a top priority to re-sign before he hit the market, locking him in Monday with a two-year, $12 million deal.
Still headed for free agency are safety Donte Whitner, cornerback Tarell Brown, kicker Phil Dawson and center Jonathan Goodwin.
Whitner and Brown have started in the 49ers' secondary since 2011, when the 49ers began their run as a perennial contender under coach Jim Harbaugh.
Whereas Whitner made headlines with his hard hits, Brown worked in steady yet unspectacular fashion (no interceptions in 2013). That duo aside, the 49ers have a glaring need for defensive-back depth: Eric Wright and Perrish Cox also are unsigned for 2014, and Carlos Rogers' future is cloudy with a scheduled salary of $6.25 million.
Wide receiver is another area of likely attrition, despite Boldin's return. Mario Manningham and Kassim Osgood are pending free agents, and while neither played a big role offensively last season, the 49ers need more production from their reserve wideouts.
Dawson, a 15-year veteran, merits an encore contract after his 2013 debut with the 49ers. He kicked the second-most field goals in 49ers history (32) and made the walk-off winner in the wild-card playoffs at Green Bay.
But the 49ers might prefer someone younger than Dawson, 39. Or if last year's personnel tug-of-war is any indication, perhaps they'd like to lure Steven Hauschka away from the Seattle Seahawks.
No 49ers mainstay seems more likely to depart than Goodwin, a 12-year veteran. He started every game since 2011, but his return became more unlikely when the 49ers recently awarded a three-year extension to Daniel Kilgore, Goodwin's potential replacement.
And, still, no contract is more important to the 49ers' future than the one being negotiated for quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He has one year left on his rookie deal -- at a $973,766 salary -- and if the sides can't reach and agreement, the 49ers could use the franchise tag to keep Kaepernick from fleeing as a free agent the next three years.
Free-agent megadeals haven't been Baalke's style in recent years, and he has instead spent more on extending contracts of homegrown talent. Financially, the 49ers have some wiggle room to spend on free agents, as they're believed to be within $10 million of the $133 million salary cap.
The 49ers will attempt to retain restricted free agent Demarcus Dobbs, a third-year defensive lineman who was tendered a $1.431 million contract. Linebacker Michael Wilhoite, NaVorro Bowman's potential fill-in for the start of 2014, received a $570,000 tender as an exclusive rights free agent, USA Today reported.
If the 49ers lose a handful of players to higher bidders, it's only natural, and surely anticipated. If they lure a few free agents, they'll plug the lineup's holes. Just don't expect a 1994-like spree that summoned Sanders, Ken Norton Jr., Rickey Jackson, Gary Plummer, Bart Oates ... and a Lombardi Trophy.
49ERS FREE AGENTS
CB Tarell Brown, K Phil Dawson, RB Anthony Dixon, C Jonathan Goodwin, QB Colt McCoy, WR Mario Manningham, WR Kassim Osgood, S Donte Whitner, CB Eric Wright, *CB Perrish Cox, *DL Demarcus Dobbs, #LB Michael Wilhoite
*Restricted free agent;
#Exclusive rights free agent