Alex Smith decision looms for 49ers


More than 20 years after the 49ers made a difficult decision regarding their starting quarterback, they’ve now got a difficult decision to make regarding their backup.

The Niners have three options when it comes to the first overall pick in the 2005 draft.  They can keep Alex Smith, they can trade him, or they can cut him.

CEO Jed York told PFT Live during Super Bowl week that the team prefers to keep both Smith and starter Colin Kaepernick, pointing to the fact that the 49ers kept Joe Montana and Steve Young on the same roster for several years.  But even if the Niners would be willing to pay Smith $8.5 million to back up a third-year player making the third-year minimum, Smith would have to want to stay and sit on the bench.

All indications are that he doesn’t; we reported during the Pro Bowl pregame that Smith is expected to ask to be released.

The 49ers prefer to trade him, in order to get value.  Some believe there will be a trade market for Smith.  Even though he found little interest as a free agent last year after completing a career season, far fewer quality quarterbacks are available this year, via free agency or the draft.  Other believe interest will be minimal, given the $8.5 million payout and the requirement of an exchange of pick(s) or player(s) to get Smith.

One of the benefits to trading Smith comes from steering him out of the division, and/or out of the conference.  By sending him to the Browns (where he’d be reunited with former 49ers offensive coordinator Norv Turner and where Smith would provide a younger option to starter Brandon Weeden), the 49ers wouldn’t have to worry (for now) about Smith landing in Arizona.

Either way, the situation will need to be resolved quickly.  The 49ers will learn at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis whether and to what extent other teams are interested in a trade.  If there’s no interest, then the 49ers will have to decide whether to keep him against his wishes or thank him for eight years of loyal service by cutting him loose.

27 responses to “Alex Smith decision looms for 49ers

  1. I’ve written several times about my admiration for the guy, so all I’m gonna say this time is…

    Free Alex Smith!

  2. ” Smith would provide a younger option to starter Brandon Weeden”

    He’s about 7 months younger than Weeden. I’d guess that teams looking to get younger at a position are thinking years younger, not a few months.
    Of course if you wrote this tongue in cheek, then…ha ha ha

  3. Can someone explain why trading Alex Smith with nothing in return is never discussed as an option? I ask because trading him saves the 49ers $1 million in cap money vs releasing him. Educate me please.

  4. He’s about 7 months younger than Weeden. I’d guess that teams looking to get younger at a position are thinking years younger, not a few months.
    Of course if you wrote this tongue in cheek, then…ha ha ha

    He may only be a few months younger than Weeden, but his experience in the league is what the Browns should be looking at. Weeden is starting only his 2nd year and will be learning another completely new offence for the 2nd consecutive year. Smith has 8 years in the league and has already run Turner’s offence. All things considered, he’s miles ahead of Weeden and he hasn’t even put on a Browns’ jersey yet.
    I think Smith will land in Cleveland either by trade or as a FA. If there’s a trade, either Weeden or McCoy will end up in SF – the one left in Cleveland gets to hold a clipboard

  5. I thought that Buffalo was going to go after Smith, but now I’m pretty sure they won’t be. Especially after bringing in Aaron Corp and resigning Tarvaris Jackson. Marrone has said now on two different occasions that there will be an open competition between Fitzpatrick and Jackson for the starting position. No mention of bringing in any more competition, Smith or a Rookie. I am hoping that Marrone is going this route because he truly believes in what is on the roster is what is best for the team. I guess we will find out soon enough.

  6. Keep him because the price tag for both QBs combined is reasonable. You let him go and Kap gets hurt for say six weeks it could blow your season. If ou have Smith you know you can still win. Its a business.

  7. a 7yr veteran its younger than your rookie starting qb….. weird. I love when skip is totally wrong, said weeden should go at pick 4, funny, haven’t heard him talk about it since praising weeden and bashing Tannehill.

  8. Yeah….Think it’s a given that Kaep will get hurt at some point in the season.
    Then it will be Smith time….but he probably will be somewhere else, so then Tolsien time.

  9. The original Chad Pennington never got this much love. Apparently coming from Utah makes a noodle arm look better.

    Smith’s final pass as a 49er was a 4 yard checkdown on 3rd and 9. That play summed up his entire career.

  10. I want Smith to go anywhere outside the NFC North and have a H.O.F. career. This guy has gotten the biggest (and longest duration) hose job that I’ve ever seen and has handled it all with aplomb.

  11. I’m all for getting something for Alex. SF can do what they did in the 90’s with Joe and let him chose his ultimate destination. There is bound to be a market for him….I would LOVE if they talked him into staying too.

  12. All the Alex lovers out there don’t get why he is in this situation to begin with. He was a big reason why they lost to Minn and the NYG (three picks on awful throws) this year. Harbaugh, a win at any cost coach, saw this and used the opening (concussion) to stick with Kap and the offense took off vs. CHI, NE et al. Kap is light years ahead of Smith in raw talent and makes plays Alex never will.

    You only need one team to make a trade with and somebody out there will be willing to give up like a 4th rounder in a weak draft and FA class. Harbaugh likes drafting his own QBs and will find a good backup he can groom for 2-3 years. Harbaugh put Smith in a position to succeed in 2011, a situation he will be hardpressed to find elsewhere.

    Overall, Smith and the team need to move on. He has been a good soldier. Whomever he ends up better realize he needs to be “managed” and can’t beat a top notch defense on his own like a Brady or Peyton.
    The Niners make out nicely either way. Kap: 6-4, 230, 4.4 speed and a rifle for an arm. The sky is the limit for this stud.

  13. People keep saying that the 49ers can only keep Smith as the backup if he is willing to do that.

    Why? There are plenty of backups in this league that have been starters and feel they deserve to be starters again. Do they all get to choose where they play?

    If you had asked Steve Young whether he would have preferred to go somewhere else and start, what do you think he would have said?

    If I was running a team, I would want a backup who felt he deserved to be starting, not a guy satisfied carrying a clipboard.

    And don’t get hung up over his salary- if you add his salary (too much for a backup) to Kaepernick’s (too little for a starter) you come up with a total cap number for QBs that many teams would envy.

    Not saying they shouldn’t see if they can get something of value for him, I am simply disputing the notion that they HAVE to do so because he’s not happy.

  14. This isn’t tricky. They want to trade him but why in the world would anyone trade knowing that if they wait, he will be released? They won’t get anything for him in this situation. Just let him go now. The Browns or Arizona will pick him up.

  15. Teams like KC will be willing to give up at least a 2nd 0r 3rd round pick for the 2014 draft .. is not much for a starting QB that can hold down the fort for the next 5 years or so or until someone better steps up…

  16. Why was my comment pointing out that this article was largely a copy of a SJ Mercury article yesterday (which was oddly added to the daily digest) deleted?

  17. I say we keep Alex on the 49ers, it makes more sense then any other option if we want a solid back-up plan should Kaepernick go down. I’m not sure Tolzien is ready to step in should something happen.

    If we don’t keep him I can easily see him being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, they have a decent line, a very good running back, and it would help them keep Bowe on the roster. They are a few good players away from making a playoff run amd Alex Smith could be one of those players.

  18. I am happy to see the 49ers at least talk about keeping Alex. I don’t think they will but at least this ups his trade value a little. This is the same organization that made it clear years ago that TO would be released, thus his trade value became nothing, and the 49ers shipped him to Philly for a ham sandwich with a bite taken out of it already.

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