49ers free-agent report: Alfonso Smith

The San Francisco 49ers have 15 potential unrestricted free agents who would hit the market when the new league year begins on March 10. Let’s continue our countdown with a running back who joined the Niners midseason last year.

RB Alfonso Smith

Smith spent the first four years of his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent out of Kentucky. He has appeared in 48 games in his career, though has not started one. Smith, who has also been a special teams player, has rushed for 175 yards on 55 rushes with two TDs and has caught 18 passes for 121 yards in his career.

49ers career: Smith joined the 49ers on Nov. 11 as a free agent and played in six games. He rushed for 19 yards on six carries, including 14 yards on two rushes in Week 16 against the San Diego Chargers, and caught three passes for 11 yards.

Argument for keeping Smith: Look, no one believes that Smith is going to supplant Frank Gore should he, as expected, leave via free agency. But Smith is a hard runner who could spell Carlos Hyde, especially if Kendall Hunter is not 100 percent recovered from his knee injury. Plus, Smith’s special teams contributions should not be overlooked.

Argument for letting Smith walk: The 49ers could find a similar player in the later rounds of the draft. And for a cheaper price.

A bold prediction: Gore leaves, the Niners like a veteran presence behind Hyde and re-sign Smith.