Niners expected to name Franklin franchise player

**FILE PHOTO** San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, right with defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin (92) against Jacksonville Jaguars in an NFL football game, in San Francisco, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

February 15, 2010 9:56:01 PM PST
The San Francisco 49ers are busy prepping for next season and they are about to make Aubrayo Franklin a wealthy man. The 49ers are expected to designate their nose tackle Franklin as their franchise player, which means he can't become a free agent.

But in order to keep him, the 49ers have to offer Franklin a contract worth the average of the top five nose tackles in the NFL -- $7 million for the upcoming season.

Franklin started all 16 games last season. He made only 36 tackles, but Franklin's real value is tying up blockers, so linebacker Patrick Willis is free to basically make every tackle.