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Which 49ers will depart before next season?

By Matthew Barrows, The Sacramento Bee Published: February 7, 2013

Clark Haggans: The veteran rarely played (48 snaps) on a defensive front that did very little substituting at outside linebacker. You have to wonder, in hindsight, whether that was smart. Aldon Smith had 191/2 sacks through the first 13 games, zero in the last six. Haggans likely wants to be on a squad where he is better utilized.

Ricky Jean Francois (UFA): Jean Francois gradually began stealing snaps from Isaac Sopoaga this season at nose tackle, and he also stepped in at defensive end for Justin Smith in the last quarter of the season. Jean Francois is five years younger than Sopoaga, and it's only logical that the 49ers would prefer to retain him over Sopoaga. However, Jean Francois' age and versatility likely will make him more attractive on the free-agent market. This outcome will be determined by how much the 49ers think Jean Francois is worth and whether his agent feels he can get more money elsewhere.

Darcel McBath (UFA): McBath would have been the first safety in the game if anything had happened to Goldson or Donte Whitner. Along with Willis, he snuffed out the fake field-goal attempt in the Super Bowl. But he also had the only shot to tackle Jones on the kickoff to start the second half. (Spoiler: He missed.) McBath's status will depend on how confident the 49ers are with youngsters Trenton Robinson and Michael Thomas.

Randy Moss (UFA): As we discovered last week, Moss wasn't happy with his backup role and wanted to be a bigger part of the offense. When he got that chance in the playoffs, Moss played well but certainly didn't take over games or play like the “greatest receiver” of all time. He was merely decent. It's hard to envision any other teams giving Moss a better opportunity than he received in San Francisco. Furthermore, the injuries to Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams mean Moss probably is needed more by the 49ers than by any other team. That all points to Moss being back. But he's been enigmatic over his career, and predicting what he'll do is a fool's game.

Alex Smith: Don't buy into the posturing by 49ers officials that Smith could be back in 2013. That scenario would be too much even for a good soldier like Smith, and the stink he'd be capable of raising would be terrible for the team's locker room morale. Instead, the 49ers will try to trade Smith, who is only 28 and who is one of the few worthy quarterbacks in free agency and the draft this year. That, plus a reasonable contract, makes a trade plausible. If it's a trade, the 49ers will try to deal him out of the conference. Kansas City, Cleveland, Jacksonville and the Raiders are possibilities.

Isaac Sopoaga (UFA): Sopoaga played fewer snaps this season, and he even lost his job moonlighting as a fullback. Whether he returns or not may depend on how much attention Jean Francois gets on the free-agent market.

Delanie Walker (UFA): Walker is the 49ers' No. 2 tight end but would be No. 1 on 20 other teams. He's become an excellent blocker, especially on the move, and is nearly as fast as Vernon Davis. His hands are puzzling — they were excellent when he first entered the league but have been dubious as he's gotten bigger and concentrated more on blocking. That facet of his game should improve with more practice. Walker should get attention on the free-agent market. He was very good in the Super Bowl.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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