Smith’s nuptials will not affect timing of contract decision

Alex Smith’s future with the 49ers should be known by the end of the month, as both sides would like his contract situation resolved by the start of the free-agent signing period on Feb. 27.

Smith is scheduled to earn a base salary of $9.625 million in 2009 – a figure the 49ers will not pay. The question is whether the 49ers and Smith’s side (agent Tom Condon) can agree on the right figure.


The 49ers believe Smith wants to remain with the 49ers. But Condon, one of the more powerful agents in the NFL, might want to steer his client to have the opportunity to pick his spot via free agency.


Smith is scheduled to marry fiancé Elizabeth Barry on Feb. 21. The 49ers insist business will not be influenced in any way by the timing of the wedding.


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I’ve heard through the NFL grapevine that the 49ers are interested in finding a right tackle, safety and wide receiver via free agency.


But I just wonder if it might be difficult for the 49ers to sign a veteran wide receiver. After all, if you were a receiver with a lot of options available, why would you choose the 49ers?


T.J. Houshmandzadeh, 31, would be a good addition – though he is not exactly the deep threat the club covets. It seems that the 49ers would have to offer a lot more money to land a top-tier receiver, especially when you factor in the cost of living in the South Bay.


Here are the factors that might make the 49ers a less-than appealing team for a free-agent wide receiver:


–There is no starting quarterback. Mike Singletary said Shaun Hill is the leading candidate, but the coach has yet to say Hill is going to be the man. A good receiver is going to want a stable QB situation. He is going to want to know who will be throwing the passes.


–With Mike Martz, who’s known for emphasizing the passing game, the 49ers’ leading wideout (Isaac Bruce) last season caught just 61 passes.


–The new offensive coordinator is Jimmy Raye, and Singletary has made it known he wants a tough-minding, physical team that is going to make it a priority to run the football.


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Maybe it’s just me, but I believe the Chiefs completely broke the spirit of the Rooney Rule, which mandates every team interview at least one minority candidate during a head-coaching search.


The Chiefs have apparently interviewed a minority candidate. But I have not found a report that identifies whom they interviewed. From the outside, it sure looks suspicious.


It seems as if the Chiefs were going to hire former Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley all along, so they did not want to disclose the identity of anybody else they interviewed. Then-Lions GM Matt Millen was fined $200,000 several years ago when he failed to comply with the Rooney Rule. Millen could not get a minority candidate to interview because everybody knew Steve Mariucci was going to get the job.


I spoke today with John Wooten, chair of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, he said he understood my point. However, he is satisfied the Chiefs did “no disservice to the Rooney Rule”. He added, “we’re fine” with the process.


But if nobody knows a minority candidate interviewed for the job, did it really happen? I believe that Mike Singletary had an easier time winning over the public and media’s support for the 49ers job because he had already been seen in the light of being a head coach.


Singletary previously interviewed for head-coaching jobs with the Falcons, Lions, Cowboys and Chargers. At some of those places, he spoke to the media about his interviews. When he stepped into the “interim” role in October, he had the benefit of already being seen as a potential head coach.


So while a minority candidate might have interviewed for the Chiefs job, it is also important for the public to associate that person with being an NFL head-coaching candidate. I believe that is every bit as important as merely getting into a door and interviewing in a vacuum.


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