Free-agency review: 49ers

Most significant signing: The knee-jerk reaction answer is Darnell Dockett, even with his turning 34 in May and having missed 2014 with a knee injury. The defensive lineman with a two-year, $7.5 million contract steps right into the San Francisco 49ers' defense, either as Ray McDonald's replacement to team with Justin Smith, or as a younger and bigger replacement for Smith, should he retire. But name recognition-wise, it's Reggie Bush, the tarnished 2005 Heisman Trophy winner from USC who can still be a game-changing playmaker at running back when healthy. Bush's details-unknown signing is more significant, though, because the addition of his skill set suggests the Niners are looking to change their offense.

Most significant loss: Let's call this a tie between running back Frank Gore, the Niners' heart and soul who departed for the Indianapolis Colts, and inside linebacker Patrick Willis, the Niners' spiritual leader who retired at age 30. But while Gore leaving was expected, even if his getting cold feet after agreeing to a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles set in motion an epic chain of events around the NFL, Willis' exodus caused shock waves still reverberating in Santa Clara. Both Gore, the franchise's all-time leading rusher, and Willis epitomized the 49ers' lean years as well as their recent run of success.

Biggest surprise: Short of Willis' decision to retire, the Niners showing what seemed to be absolutely no interest in retaining cornerback Perrish Cox and his team-leading five interceptions and allowing him to walk for the Tennessee Titans is a stunner. Cox was one of a handful of players to show up for new coach Jim Tomsula's introductory news conference in January and reiterated his desire to return to Santa Clara. Plus, with the Niners almost assured to lose fellow starting corner Chris Culliver (they did, to Washington), you'd think they would want some continuity out there at cornerback, no?

What's next: Justin Smith Watch '15. Dockett seemed to indicate the Niners were willing to go without the Cowboy. But if Smith decides to return for a 15th NFL season, San Francisco's offseason focus would shift to filling other gaps for depth in free agency before finalizing a draft plan. Smith told the Sacramento Bee he anticipated making a decision this week. The secondary could use some more help, even with the signings of Shareece Wright and Chris Cook. While they did add veteran lineman Erik Pears, who could compete to start at left guard or as a backup swing man, the offensive line could also use some work.