Today marks the deadline for teams to decide if they are going to place their franchise tag on a player. For the 49ers, that means they have until 1:00 p.m. PT to decide whether to franchise FS Dashon Goldson, and I suppose to a lesser extent, whether to franchise TE Delanie Walker.
The team has been leaning away from using the franchise tag on Goldson. One issue with using it would be the need to clear salary cap space. While the team will clear a lot of space once they "officially" trade Alex Smith, that space does not clear until after the league year begins. Depending on the source you check, the team is either a few hundred thousand over the salary cap, or a million or so under the salary cap.
Either way, with a tag value over $7 million, placing the tag on Goldson means clearing a bunch of space under the cap. The 49ers could realistically do that by releasing David Akers and Parys Haralson, and working out a couple contract extensions. The options are there.
And yet, that seems unlikely at this point. The 49ers are likely letting Goldson hit the market and see what he can find. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that one NFL team official has indicated Goldson is seeking $8 million per year. This is not shocking news as this number has been bandied about for some time as "Eric Weddle money".
At this point, it seems like the 49ers figure this year's rookie safety class brings very solid replacement options. Additionally, if Goldson does not get the kind of offer he is expecting, maybe he ends up returning to San Francisco. I would be a bit surprised to see him back, but you never know what will happen.
The 49ers could potentially use the franchise tag on Delanie Walker, although that seems unlikely. If the 49ers elected to do that, it could be more as a show of good faith to get a deal done for less than the franchise amount. I don't think the 49ers would do that, but maybe that is the strategy they play.