SANTA CLARA -- After Dashon Goldson said Tuesday he is determined to avoid another franchise tag, his case for a multiyear contract got a boost from coach Jim Harbaugh, who called the 49ers free safety "somebody that I think you reward."
Harbaugh was less definitive about the status of backup quarterback Alex Smith, who remains under contract for 2013 but might be nearing the end of tumultuous stay in San Francisco.
Goldson and Smith represent two of the 49ers' biggest roster decisions as the team shakes off its Super Bowl hangover and heads into the offseason. Players cleaned out their lockers at team headquarters Tuesday, two days after a 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans.
Goldson recognized that he might be packing up his belongings for the last time in Santa Clara.
"Hopefully, I will be with this team," he said, "but I'm open to all 32 teams."
The All-Pro free safety tried to nail down a multiyear agreement a year ago, but the sides were still far apart when the 49ers used the franchise tag, locking Goldson up on a one-year tender worth $6.2 million.
The 49ers could tag him again in 2013, this time for $7.45 million, but Goldson wants no part of another season in limbo.
"The franchise tag, it's cool. It's not that bad with the money, but everybody wants security," Goldson, 28, said. "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."
Goldson, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, said he will take some time off before returning to training while letting his agent, Ben Dogra, handle the next step in negotiations.
Originally a fourth-round pick in the 2007 draft, Goldson has emerged as one of the NFL's best safeties because of his size (6-2, 200), range and aggressiveness. His fans include Harbaugh, who was uncharacteristically direct when asked if re-signing Goldson was a priority.
"He's somebody that I think you reward," Harbaugh said. "You know he's out there, and opposing offenses know that he's out there. He tackles and does everything that you'd want a safety to do. I feel like you reward those types of people. Who do you reward if you don't reward those types of people?"
Smith, meanwhile, faces an uncertain future. The eight-year veteran wants to be a starting quarterback next season, a role that looks impossible in San Francisco now that Colin Kaepernick looks like a budding star.
The 49ers could give Smith a fresh start by cutting him loose, but Harbaugh indicated that doing so would be a business decision and not because the 49ers owe the quarterback any favors.
"I don't think any player has those wishes granted when they're under contract," Harbaugh said when asked whether Smith had earned the right to have some input into what happens next.
"Everything is different and every scenario is unique. Certainly something that we're not going to delve into and get into specifics at this point."
Smith suffered a concussion and lost his job to Kaepernick at midseason. If Smith is still on the roster beyond April 1, the 49ers will owe him about $8.5 million. That's expensive for a backup, but his experience -- and Kaepernick's lack of it -- make it plausible that both QBs would stick around.
"We feel good, great, about our quarterback situation," Harbaugh said. "You can't have enough good quarterbacks."
Smith was unavailable for comment Tuesday. One of his teammates, strong safety Donte Whitner, was asked about the possibility that Smith might be elsewhere next season.
"I wish Alex the best. He was a great teammate. If this is his last time ... I know he'll go and use the situation this year and what he's been through to fuel him to go get wins and push his team to the playoffs," Whitner said.
"I truly believe that. I truly believe there's something out there for Alex."
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