Three thoughts as training camps open around the NFL:
One thing I'm certain of: Dashon Goldson's unsigned status is a temporary inconvenience. The team can get through any camp practices and exhibition games Goldson might miss. Given that rules prevent Goldson and other franchise players from signing long-term deals at this point, the 49ers know their Pro Bowl safety will sign in time for the season. They need to develop depth at safety and will have additional chances to do so if Goldson stays away for any significant period.
Unsigned franchise players have until Nov. 13 to sign their one-year qualifying offers. Goldson would forfeit nearly $365,000 for every regular-season game he missed. That is a significant sum for any player and particularly for Goldson, who earned $1 million last season and less than $600,000 per year previously, on average.
One thing that might happen: Competition at running back, wide receiver and backup quarterback could shift attention away from Alex Smith during camp and the preseason, a big change from recent seasons. Smith returns to the team entrenched as the starter. It'll be news if Smith struggles, of course, but it's inconceivable to envision another quarterback winning the starting job in camp. That could be an underrated positive for the 49ers.
I do wonder, still, how well Smith will fare in distributing the ball to receivers Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss in particular. Moss, Crabtree, Ted Ginn Jr. and rookie A.J. Jenkins give the 49ers four first-round draft choices at wide receiver, the most in the league. How will Crabtree and Moss react if the passing game falters and their stats suffer?
One thing we won't see: The same old thing at right guard. Former starters Chilo Rachal and Adam Snyder signed elsewhere in free agency. The 49ers were ready to move on without them. Alex Boone has become a strong favorite to start after converting from tackle. Daniel Kilgore is another option. Rookie Joe Looney could project as the long-term starter once he recovers from a foot injury. Whatever the case, change is on the way.