Whispers from Indianapolis
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One agent at the NFL scouting combine was telling me about a client.

"There's going to be a market for him," he said. "A lot of teams are asking about him. . ."

And, then, he caught himself.

"I mean, a lot of teams are interested in the position he plays," the agent clarified . . . perhaps.

Each year the scouting combine brings together every coach, scout, front-office decision-maker and agent to Indianapolis. As much as the focus is on the 333 draft eligible players who are auditioning for work, it's also an important time for veterans with uncertain futures.

Quarterback Alex Smith might have been the most-talked-about player at this year's combine. For the first time, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh uttered the name "Alex Smith" and the word "trade" in the same sentence.

All indications are that the 49ers will be able to trade Smith once the trade window opens on March 12. But nothing will be (or can be) official until that point.

[MAIOCCO: Alex Smith saga will continue until at least March 12]

With an expected 14 draft picks for the upcoming draft, the 49ers are expected to ask that any compensation for Smith come in the form of pick(s) in 2014.

Here were some of the other 49ers-related topics being talked about in hallways and establishments in Indianapolis over the weekend:

--As reported on Sunday, the 49ers are leaning toward not placing the franchise tag on safety Dashon Goldson. If the 49ers do not change their mind in the next week, that means the club probably would not be able to retain him if he hits the free-agent market. One possible reason why the 49ers are prepared to let Goldson walk, at this point, is that this is considered a strong draft class for prospects who play the safety position.

--If the 49ers do not tag Goldson, the next player most likely to get tagged is backup tight end Delanie Walker. But the tag for tight ends is $5.968 million. Walker is coming off a deal that paid him $2 million a year. If the 49ers are willing to pay him one year at the franchise number, then that kind of financial commitment should be enough for them to get a long-term deal done with him prior to the start of free agency.

--The 49ers did not grab a Stanford player in Harbaugh's first two drafts. It would not be shocking if that string is broken with tight end Zach Ertz with the No. 31 selection.

--Best player available. Remember those three words.

--And that includes a wide receiver. If a big, fast, strong receiver is available, that could be tempting, too. It's a good sign for the 49ers that their top pick from a year ago, A.J. Jenkins, arrived in Atlanta on Sunday to begin working out with Colin Kaepernick.

--Backup defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois could be a popular man if the 49ers do not sign him before the start of free agency. Also, nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga could hit the free-agent market because the 49ers are not expected to pay him the $4 million average he got on his last deal with the team.

--When asked if kicker David Akers will have a chance to "compete" for a job with the 49ers, Harbaugh answered, "It's possible." But it also seems highly unlikely. Akers is scheduled to make $3 million in base salary. And that's a figure that makes it likely the 49ers will release him.

--Ted Ginn is not a high-priority re-signing for the 49ers. As of right now, Kyle Williams and LaMichael James are the top candidates to return punts for next season. James is the top man on kickoffs.

--Williams, Justin Smith and Kendall Hunter are expected to be ready for training camp. Mario Manningham is not expected to be ready for the start of camp, but should be available when the regular season begins.

--Cornerback Carlos Rogers is scheduled to make $5.85 million. The 49ers plan to pick up that contract so he can return for at least another season.