The 49ers have $1.1 million in salary-cap space, according to a league source, but the team will gain significantly more breathing room after quarterback Alex Smith can be traded to the Kansas City Chiefs on March 12.
Smith currently accounts for $8.5 million of the 49ers' $121.9 million salary-cap pay roll of their top 51 players for 2013. The salary cap has been set at $123 million per team.
The 49ers structured the three-year contract with Smith last spring in such a way that he was not awarded a signing bonus. With the trade to Kansas City, Smith's contract will be immediately wiped off the 49ers' books at the beginning of the new league year on March 12, when every team must be under the cap. The Chiefs would assume the terms of the final two years of Smith's contract.
The 49ers can also clear $3 million with the release of kicker David Akers, a 14-year veteran who struggled last season after a record-breaking 2011 season.
The 49ers remain in negotiations with many of their scheduled free agents, including tight end Delanie Walker. There has been little progress toward long-term contracts for safety Dashon Goldson and defensive linemen Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean Francois, according to sources.
The 49ers are leaning toward not using the franchise tag on Goldson for a second year in a row, according to league sources. The deadline to use the franchise tag is Monday.