49ers Mailbag: Trade period begins March 12
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How soon can Alex Smith be traded? (@S49erfan)
The new league year begins March 12, 1 p.m. (PT), at which point the NFL trade period opens.

So the 49ers have a 19-day window to work out a deal with another team for quarterback Alex Smith. If Smith is on the 49ers' roster on April 1, the club must guarantee his $7.5 million base salary.

If something is going to happen, it'll likely happen quickly.

How did Vick's restructure affect a possible Alex trade? (@NJBeerNerd)
The Philadelphia Eagles are bringing back Michael Vick. All that means is that there is one less team looking for a quarterback.

The Eagles' decision to bring back Vick has no impact on Alex Smith. A team is either going to like Smith or Vick. I can't imagine that any team would think equally of both quarterbacks and their respective styles of play.

What do you think the ‪49ers‬ chances are of trading for Percy Harvin? (@MarquisDotCom)
My blanket answer for all questions regarding potential trades is "slim."

After all, think of all the times the question has come up about 49ers potential trades over the past few years. Yet, there was only one player on the roster last season the 49ers acquired in a trade: Ted Ginn.

Good teams treat their draft picks like gold. Teams that want to win consistently generally do not hand out big contracts to attract players from other teams. Yes, Harvin's contract for 2013 makes him affordable, but he would want a lucrative extension from any team that acquires him.

[RELATED: Maiocco -- Percy Harvin makes sense for 49ers]

If the price is right -- draft picks to Minnesota and contract for Harvin -- it's possible. But, just remember, this isn't baseball. Trades in the NFL are relatively rare.

The 49ers have done a good job of managing their salary cap, and I would not expect them to break the bank with a market-value deal for a big-name player from another team.

In recent years, the 49ers have retained such standout performers as Patrick Willis, Frank Gore, Joe Staley, NaVorro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks to team-friendly, long-term contracts.

With Kendall Hunter coming back healthy, do you think LaMichael James has a place on this team next season? (@ToddCooper26)
Yes, both players have a spot on the team. But their roles will be defined by how they perform in the offseason. Hunter should be available for the start of training camp after undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn Achilles.

If Hunter comes back strong, I believe he is still the clear-cut No. 2 running back behind Gore. James' fastest track to becoming a regular contributor is to improve himself as a punt returner. He struggled in the preseason and was the No. 3 punt returner behind Ginn and Perrish Cox for the last part of the season.

The 49ers love to promote competition within the team. Coach Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke believe in adding good players and then seeing how the competition shakes out. Remember a year ago when the 49ers signed quarterback Josh Johnson? There were a lot of questions what Johnson's arrival it meant for Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.

That question was answered on the practice field and during the exhibition season.

‪H‬as the NFL had ANY official communication regarding the obvious one-sided non-calls against the Niners in the sb? (@john_49_)
The NFL does not comment on officiating issues that involve judgment calls. However, Dean Blandino, the new NFL vice president of officiating, had this to say to Newsday's Bob Glauber about the controversial fourth-down pass to Michael Crabtree that did not draw a penalty flag for defensive pass interference against Baltimore cornerback Jimmy Smith:

"When you watch it at full speed, to me, it was a good non-call. I think the first thing you have to understand is that once the ball is in the air, you can't have defensive holding or illegal contact. Now you have to see if the contact raised to the level of pass interference.

[RELATED: Pereira -- Good no call on last play to Crabtree]

"With pass interference, you have to materially affect the receiver's ability to catch the pass. Yes, there's hand-fighting, but Crabtree also has his hand on (Smith's) helmet. The pass was catchable, but the contact did not materially restrict Crabtree's ability to catch the pass. He was jockeying for position and using his hands as well."