Each NFL team has until March 4 to tag a prospective free agent as a "franchise player." Goldson was restricted under that tag last season. This season, it would cost the 49ers $7.45 million to retain Goldson's rights for one more season.
The 49ers have spoken with agents for each of their free agents at the NFL scouting combine, according to sources. Goldson and the 49ers are not believed to be close on a long-term contract agreement. The free-agent signing period begins March 12.
When asked if the 49ers plan to use the franchise tag this offseason, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said, "(I) don't have an answer for that. Whether we use the tag or not, I really don't know at this point. I think I do know, but I'm not willing to share it at this time."
C.J. Spillman and Trenton Robinson are the only backup safeties on last year's team expected back in 2013. Michael Thomas, who spent his rookie season on the practice squad, is also signed for the 2013 season. There are plenty of options available in a strong draft class of safeties, including T.J. McDonald of USC. McDonald's dad is former 49ers safety Tim McDonald.
Matt Elam (Florida), Eric Reid (LSU), Johnathan Cyprien (Florida International), Kenny Vacarro (Texas), Zeke Motta (Notre Dame), Robert Lester (Alabama), D.J. Swearinger (South Carolina), Tony Jefferson (Oklahoma) and Bacarri Rambo (Georgia) are other safeties who could be viewed as eventual starters.
"The franchise tag, it's cool," he said. "It's not that bad with the money, but everybody wants security. In the job that I do, and the position I play, there's a lot that comes with the territory. Security is something that you want at my position, for sure."
Coach Jim Harbaugh said Goldson deserved a long-term deal.
"He's somebody that I think that you reward," Harbaugh said. "Plays every game. Can find the ball. You know that he's out there. And opposing offenses know that he's out there. And he tackles and does everything that you'd want a safety to do. And, yeah, I feel like you reward those type of people. Who do you reward if you don't reward those type of people?"