NFL Combine Q&A -- 49ers GM Trent Baalke
If the 49ers can't agree to a long-term deal with Dashon Goldson, they can use the franchise tag on him. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
INDIANAPOLIS -- The 49ers are up against the projected salary cap of approximately $121 million for the 2013 season, and everybody's contract is getting a second look.
"It's all about value and making sure you get the right value on players," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said Thursday at the NFL scouting combine.
"You can't pay everybody, and you certainly can't pay everybody if you're overpaying others."
Baalke declined to speak about specifics when asked about some of the contracts that might warrant closer discussion. Obviously, the 49ers will look to trade backup quarterback Alex Smith, who is scheduled to earn $8.5 million in 2013.
Other veteran contracts that will warrant a closer inspection include kicker David Akers ($3 million), cornerback Carlos Rogers ($5.85 million) and center Jonathan Goodwin ($3.7 million).
If the 49ers fail to reach a long-term contract agreement with Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson, whose contract expires on March 12, the 49ers could retain him at a one-year cost of $7.45 million.
"Whether we use the tag or not, I really don't know at this point," Baalke said.
"We've always maintained (that) we want to keep as many of our core guys together as we can. It's definitely a priority. Are we going to be able to do it? We don't know that. We'll work awfully hard to make that happen."
The 49ers have opened preliminary contract talks with some of the team's scheduled free agents, Baalke said. Tight end Delanie Walker and backup defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois are likely two of the team's top priorities, along with Goldson, to re-sign.
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Veteran wide receiver Randy Moss' contributions to the 49ers exceeded his 28 regular-season receptions. But there are no guarantees Moss will return for a second season with the 49ers.
"Is he going to return this year this?" Baalke asked. "I don't know that yet."
Moss said during Super Bowl week that he did not like his non-pass-catching role. But he tried his best to adapt to do as much as he could to help the team.
"Randy's a pro," Baalke said. "I can't say enough good things about Randy. I think if you ask anyone in our organization, they'd say the same thing. One of the first guys to work every day, one of the last to leave. A guy who takes great care of his body. Probably one of the smartest football players, if not the smartest football player, I've been around. He grasped the offense very quickly and was a real leader in that room. We're certainly happy that he was there."
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Defensive lineman Justin Smith underwent surgery after the Super Bowl on a partially torn left triceps tendon. Baalke said Smith will have a "short rehab" and will be ready for a full training camp. Coach Jim Harbaugh said Smith's rehabilitation would likely take two or three months.
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The 49ers will wait until after the draft to make any promotion to fill the role of Tom Gamble, director of player personnel, who left recently to join the Philadelphia Eagles.
Joel Patten, director of college scouting, will be under consideration for the job, Baalke said.
How has the 49ers' personnel department compensated for the loss of Gamble?
"Putting our head down and grinding like we always do," Baalke said. "We have a talented group. Joel Patten and (national scout) Matt Malaspina, all of the area scouts, we just got through 17 days of draft meetings. The Super Bowl ended, we flew back Monday, and Tuesday morning we were back at it."
When asked why the 49ers allowed Gamble to leave just a week before the scouting combine, Baalke answered, "Philadephia is home for him. We could've blocked that move. He was under contract for several more years. That's a personal decision that was made between Tom and I and the rest of the organization."
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It's much too early to determine how the 49ers plan to use their projected 14 draft picks, Baalke said.
"The first thing is setting the board," he said. "We got to get the draft board set to reflect the skill sets of the players in the draft. And once we get the board set, we can start nailing down a plan of attack for the draft. Obviously, the more picks you have, the more flexibility you have in terms of movement.
"Sometimes that means moving up. Sometimes that means staying put and sometimes that means trading back. And we've proven over the last few years that we're willing to do any of the above."
Baalke said the 49ers "feel strongly" they will be rewarded three compensatory picks. Their first compensatory selection will be either at the end of the third or fourth round, he said.