Scouting combine slowly evolves

• Last year, Manti Te'o of Notre Dame had the most anticipated news conference because of the imaginary girlfriend story that had evolved over a two-year period. This year, Michael Sam, defensive end from Missouri, made the announcement that he is a gay. At the combine, he will be asked to discuss his announcement.

• As always, the combine will be filled with negotiations. Franchise tags are expected to be down in number this year, so more players are expected to hit the free-agent market. Teams will discuss plans for re-signing players and free agency.

From the inbox

Q: How does the level of state income tax affect free agency? Does a team in a state with no income tax get a leg up on the competition? I have seen the weird way income tax is applied so that the player pays state income tax to each state in which he plays a game. However, a player in Washington should still get the benefit of eight home games with no state income tax compared to zero for the home games of a player in California.

Steve in Anchorage, Alaska

A: It can play a factor. Theoretically, states such as Florida, Texas and Washington have an advantage. If you crunch the numbers, a player can keep more of the money that he earns. But I don't know if a lot of players pay attention to it. Contracts a lot of times are ego driven. Players often want the highest average and biggest signing bonus without paying attention to the tax consequences. The good agents, though, pay attention to it. Players are asked to pay some state tax when they visit states that demand it. That's why I always say it's important to have a good agent. Ultimately, it's not what you make that's important, it's what you keep.

Q: S.F. seems to have an embarrassment of riches with draft picks and not much roster space (or playing time) for developmental prospects. Any rumblings about trading picks for position (see Atlanta, 2011, for Julio Jones)? Or trading for future picks? Have you heard any talk, or are we going to have to wait until draft day to see how they play it?

Matt S. in Las Vegas

A: I don't see the 49ers putting together some blockbuster trade of draft choices to move up high and do something bold. Sure, they like quality, but they also like the quantity of draft choices to make their roster a little younger. The 49ers are under pressure to come up with a great draft. They have to see if they can jump ahead of the Seahawks in the NFC West. Arizona and St. Louis are knocking on the door behind them.

Q: Is Ndamukong Suh going to be the tipping point for the Lions and the team's cap? If the Lions do nothing to his deal this year, he'll be 20 percent of the team's salary and it would be hard to sign free agents or improve the team. If they sign him to a long-term deal, hopefully for around $15 million annually, it would put them with three players making roughly $45 million per year. Is signing him a good deal, or should they let him walk after this year? No doubt he is a great player.

Shane in Grand Rapids, Mich.

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