Although it is hardly much of a surprise, it does not appear likely that San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith will be back with the 49ers after the Super Bowl. Smith, a former first overall draft selection, had a sort of a renaissance for his career when the 49ers brought in Jim Harbaugh to coach the team.
Smith was previously viewed as a bust, but low turnover totals and efficient management over the last two seasons helped to turn his career around. However, Smith was supplanted by his backup, Colin Kaepernick, after Smith went down with a concussion in the ninth game of the season.
Smith sat out the next game, and Kaepernick went on to have a big game against the Chicago Bears, and has started every game since, including playoff victories over the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons. Now he finds himself at the cusp of a Super Bowl title and with the keys to the franchise.
Where does that leave the highly paid Smith? Currently, he is coaching up Kaepernick, helping him to prepare for the biggest game of his career, and the biggest game for the franchise since Super Bowl XXIX nearly 20 years ago.
After that, however, chances are he will have a new home next season. NFL.com reported yesterday that the 49ers will try to trade the veteran quarterback after the season. However, if they cannot, they will cut him early in the offseason out of respect for Smith to help him land with another team quickly, possibly before the NFL draft in April.
Today, Harbaugh was asked about Smith and his future, and he said outright that “he is a starting quarterback”, adding that he has the desire to start and that he’s sure “that will play out”.
In reality, this is likely the best move for both Smith and the franchise. Kaepernick is clearly the future with the team, helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl in just his second season where Smith failed throughout his career, coming oh so close last season in an overtime loss in the NFC championship game.
Meanwhile, however, there are still plenty of QB-needy teams around the league, and with a fairly undistinguished class of quarterbacks coming out of college this season, it would seem to be the ideal time for Smith to find another opportunity elsewhere, such as in Jacksonville, Oakland, or even New York with the Jets.
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