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By TED SILLANPAA

It’s not news to hear that Alex Smith doesn’t want to be with the 49ers next season. That hasn’t stopped sports talkers and sports writers from turning the report circulated Monday that the quarterback wants to be released from his contract after the Super Bowl into some sort of revelation worthy of much discussion.

Smith has been a good teammate since getting hurt and losing his starting job. He’s a good guy, clearly. He’d played well enough this season to be a starter, even if it means he leaves the 49ers to get a starting job. Everybody knew that. And, anybody who thought ahead anticipated that Smith would want out of his contract.

It’s to Smith’s advantage to have it reported on the first Monday of Super Bowl week that he’ll ask for his release. Now, the whole world knows that the 49ers will be keeping him around as a backup quarterback against his will if they opt to make him serve out the final year of his deal in San Francisco. By getting the request for his release in Monday spotlight … the whole world will be watching to see now if the 49ers will force Smith to stand in reserve behind Colin Kaepernick next season after taking Smith’s starting job from him when an injury forced him from the lineup.

At some point, the 49ers organization will be faced with rewarding Smith for being a good soldider by trading him to a team that needs him or releasing him to find his own new club. Or, the 49ers can be a little bit like what fans think the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees are like and just treat Smith like a cog in the corporate wheel.

The decision to circulate the story that Smith wants his release simply took advantage of the first day of Super Bowl week to get him maximum media attention. And, it did get the media’s attention. It’s just not news or worth any real discussion. Smith was a good soldier when he got hurt and lost his job to a better player. He deserves better than to have the 49ers reward him by making him spend next season on the bench behind Colin Kaepernick.

 

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29 Comments

  1. K.T. Hastings

    It’s an interesting question. Of course its no surprise that Smith wants out. On the other hand, having him in a backup role has been pretty comforting for a fan of a team with a kid quarterback that likes to run around.

    If the 49ers can fill the spot with a solid backup I think they should look to trade him. If not, a year from now he will still only be 29 and a free agent.

    I disagree with the premise that they “owe” him his release. They made him an extremely wealthy man and his performance, until lately, wasn’t always commensurate with the bajillion dollars that he received. Yet the Niners wrote the checks, as they should have, and he cashed them, as he should have.

    If/when he goes to another team I will wish him well. He has been a good teammate this year. But my greater concern is that the 49rs have 2 solid quarterbacks next year.

    January 28th, 2013 6:18 pm

  2. The Bat

    If the Niners grant him his release, then they all but guarantee that he goes to rival Arizona, who are salivating at the shot to sign him, and might not hang onto Larry Fitzgerald if they don’t. It’s not in the team’s best interest, therefore they will likely not do it. As K.T. indicates above, the don’t “owe” Smith anything. They made him a rich man, as the number one pick in the 2005 draft, and until lately, he wasn’t worth eight years of development to fulfill that slot. Smith should count himself lucky that the grande illusion he represents still counts as starter money on the market. He’ll never be better than a backup, but he will still command starter pay thanks to the confidence the Niners granted him, year after year after year. They will trade him to a team that doesn’t present a threat, and can give them a good draft position, and about break even on his overall employment. It’s a business, after all, and two competitive teams in this division are troublesome already. Farewell, Utah.

    January 28th, 2013 7:24 pm

  3. KB

    I don’t believe the brass would keep him. I also think that all stories involving any team player will get blown up this week. And I think that Smith’s value will not change from what happens this week.

    January 28th, 2013 7:53 pm

  4. overtime

    KB…Thanks for reading. The angle the media pursues every time anything happens this week is the question of whether or not it’ll be a distraction. Smith’s thing won’t distract the 49ers, because every guy on the team respects him and wants him to get a chance to go play somewhere else. TED

    January 28th, 2013 8:47 pm

  5. overtime

    KT…Hold it! It seems a litte counter to your purist views of sports to say, “Hey…they’re paying him!” You realize Smith could’ve raised 101 different kinds of hell interviewing and expressing his discontent with losing his job to injury…ESPN, Fox, CBS, etc. Smith could’ve made the transition so difficult that Kaepernick’s struggles would’ve been magnified and the pressure on him would’ve been just incredible. The argument could be made that Smith played as big a role in the transition to Kaepernick succeeding as Kaepernick did. … I don’t think that even getting paid $7.5 million is enough to eat dirt and swallow it with a smile for one more entire season when Smith has been such a good trooper in a time period when he could’ve divided the team, etc. Ted

    January 28th, 2013 8:52 pm

  6. overtime

    The Bat…Thanks for reading. Good thoughts. You lost me at “he’ll never be better than a backup” given that he was one of the leading QBs in the NFL when whe got hurt and lost his job — which is why you don’t want him to wind up in Arizona with Larry Fitzgerald. If he’s a career backup, wouldn’t you see it a net plus for the Niners to ship him to AZ? Smith was a good soldier who got the shaft when he got hurt … and he refused to tear the team apart when Kaepernick became No. 1. Veteran players tend to stand with a fellow vet when he loses his job to injury. Smith didn’t make 49ers choose between him and management … that’s why the team’s in the Super Bowl. They owe it to him to let him go play somewhere else. TED

    January 28th, 2013 8:56 pm

  7. Jethro Camano

    We don’t owe Alex anything! We’ve already paid him 10′s of millions. We drag this out and get all the draft choices we can.

    January 28th, 2013 9:03 pm

  8. K.T. Hastings

    I used to be a purist. A friend taught me cynicism. You’re right, he could have done his best to tear the team apart, but (as I acknowledged) he did his part to help the team win this year. It happened to be a different part than he, or any of us, expected him to play. If the 49ers follow that up with a trade that helps Alex and both teams I will wish him well.

    I disagree that he will never be more than a career backup, and I don’t want to play him twice a year.

    Fireman Ed would love to have him in New York. He is twice what they have right now.

    January 28th, 2013 9:25 pm

  9. overtime

    K.T. Purists with stars in their eyes about the heroes in their favorite team’s colors don’t change their views overnight. So, time will tell if this is simply a selective moment to decide, “OK…this time…It’s a business!” … The 49ers can trade Smith and that’d work. Only team that wants him to start would make the trade. TED

    January 28th, 2013 10:47 pm

  10. overtime

    Jethro…We? Unless you’re part of the 49ers management, there’s no “we” to it. The 49ers, I believe, owe a loyal employee for not destroying a Super Bowl season in a generation when unselfish athletes like Alex Smith are rare. Thanks for reading. I hope you stay in touch. TED

    January 28th, 2013 10:48 pm

  11. The Bat

    The statistics have never told the whole story with Smith. Frankly, he’s only played well when no one has expected him to, with the exception of this year’s carryover from last year. Other than the progression of these two back to back years, he’s been a question mark every camp, despite his numbers. The reason I consider him a career backup is because that’s what his skill set indicates; he won’t/can’t make the downfield throw accurately, which means the “big play” isn’t readily in the offing for him, and he is very careful with the football, almost to a fault. But he can mount a dink-dunk drive-10 and 15 yard throws- providing his supporting cast can make plays with the football. In other words, he won’t win the game for you outright, but he won’t lose it either. As for the mental aspect, he’ll play against us twice a year for a division opponent, and those will likely be the two best games he would play that year. As such, I wouldn’t want to play him twich a year in this division either (I don’t remember being in favor of anywhere Utah lands, just speculation about where he might go). His performances in other games won’t be spectacular, and I think he will have to compete for his job in training camp every year. Again, the numbers don’t reflect the whole story with him; the majority of his problems over the years have been his arm and what’s between his ears. Just my opinion. So far, I’ve been right. Whatever. Say what you want.

    January 29th, 2013 12:09 pm

  12. overtime

    Bat…Thanks for providing background to earlier comments. I appreciate and enjoy them. As mentioned, it’s your opinion … I’ve got an opinion … everybody’s got an opinion. I respect your opinion, for sure. However, we can elevate the discussion above what we both hear and read too often when it comes to this type of thing. Alex Smith had good stats and had the 49ers en route to the postseason when he was injured and replaced at QB. He was the quarterback for a team that made the NFC Championship game last season. I don’t think that the emergence of Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback who so ideally fits what the 49ers want to do offensively, proves any point about Smith, does it? I’m sure that neither of us really think there’s a debate over which of the QBs best serves the 49ers, though. If I worked for the 49ers and responded to things the way Smith did, I would appreciate if my employer let me be involved in finding a team where I could resume in a starting role. In an age of such incredible selfishness in sport, I guess I really just hope the unselfish guy gets rewarded in some way. Thanks for reading. TED

    January 29th, 2013 12:34 pm

  13. Port

    He owes the 49′ers! They owe him nothing !. He stunk up the field for three years. Does anyone remember the turnovers and ” small hands ” excuse ? The only reason he has any value at all is because of Harbaugh and his decision not to let him throw more than 8 yards down field. Let the team get their investment back in a trade!

    January 29th, 2013 12:36 pm

  14. The Bat

    “Smith was a good soldier who got the shaft when he got hurt … and he refused to tear the team apart when Kaepernick became No. 1. Veteran players tend to stand with a fellow vet when he loses his job to injury. Smith didn’t make 49ers choose between him and management … that’s why the team’s in the Super Bowl. They owe it to him to let him go play somewhere else.”

    He had his chance to leave as a free agent when Miami offered him a contract to start. Instead he returned to the Niners where things have never really worked out. I don’t know that it’s in his nature to behave in the fashion you describe, which is why he wouldn’t. Smith doesn’t have those characteristics in his DNA. He’s handled it as I think a professional athlete should. I don’t fault him, but I don’t think, after the Peyton Manning flirtations he should have ever seen himself in the team’s long-term plan. The team will likely grant him what he wants,not because they “owe it to him” but because it’s what’s best for the team. They will release him before he’s due the roster bonus, and we’ll all wait to see what he does. I wish him well, I truly do.

    January 29th, 2013 12:36 pm

  15. The Bat

    But you’re right, Ted; the emergence of CK doesn’t really say anything negative about him. More so that CK is better suited to the explosive offense the Niners have been wanting to run. I think that’s all I’ve ever really been saying, too. My negative impressions of Smith, fair or unfair, have more to do with the frustrations I’ve experienced over the years watching him. Overall, he’s a good player, or he wouldn’t have lasted this long in this league. K.T. actually has it right when he says the Jets could use him, and his skill set would suit that team well. He certainly wouldn’t be nearly as bad or throw half as many picks as Sanchez has. I wonder what he wants, though, and whether he still sees himself as having something to prove. I’m sure he does, but whether he intends to prove it to himself, the league, or in particular, to the Niners, remains to be seen.

    January 29th, 2013 12:46 pm

  16. overtime

    The Bat…I realize that the 49ers have to take into the salary cap hit they’d take if they released him to make his own deal, etc. So … I realize it’s more complicated than my wish that a selfless athlete could get rewarded with a chance to go make his own deal. Appreciate your thoughts. TED

    January 29th, 2013 1:40 pm

  17. eatmy

    It’s a business. And it’s competitive. Get what you can for him, and do it as humanely as possible. The extraordinarily positive demeanor he’s displayed should only increase his trade value.

    January 29th, 2013 5:19 pm

  18. overtime

    Eat…That’s what’ll happen, I assume. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. TED

    January 29th, 2013 7:49 pm

  19. Bill Williamkill

    Had to get this in here Ted: Whoa, a fast field, bipartisan fans and the game is squarely on Kap’s shoulders. He’s gonna be right at home. Flacco gets them 24, Kap gets them 38 cause Akers will get a FG. Liked RM’s Statement. Games gonna be brutal.

    January 30th, 2013 8:33 am

  20. overtime

    Bill…Flacco’s a cool customer, too. We’ll see how it shakes out. TED

    January 30th, 2013 12:39 pm

  21. The Bat

    Hey Ted, NFL Network is reporting the Niner brass have said they will seek to trade Alex Smith, and if they can’t trade him will grant his release, as a reward for the way he handled his benching. Without commenting on how right you were in your assessment, answer me this; isn’t that a rather stupid move for the team? I mean, no team has to trade anything for an athlete they know will be on the open market eventually do they? So why would any team?

    January 30th, 2013 3:59 pm

  22. overtime

    Bat…I saw something about it on Twitter. A team that believes that Alex Smith will be their starting quarterback won’t sweat trading a draft pick now, I don’t think. The NFL is about today and tomorrow, so I don’t think teams that really want Smith would be willing to wait for him to be released to then enter a bidding war. The Kansas City Chiefs and 49ers worked out a trade once Joe Montana identified Kansas City as the team he wanted to go to in 1993 when Steve Young locked up the No. 1 QB job. So, without comparing Alex Smith in any way to Montana, there is some precedent for doing what the 49ers say they’ll do for Smith and having it work for both teams.

    The NY Times story from 1993 reported of Montana: “The 49ers traded the 36-year-old quarterback — along with safety David Whitmore and a 1994 third-round draft pick — to Kansas City for the Chiefs’ first-round selection (the 18th over all) in the National Football League draft on Sunday.” A trade for Smith wouldn’t be that complicated and, Smith wouldn’t fetch a first-round pick in return. So … I would think that if a team wants Alex Smith that they’d rather trade a third-round pick to get him than to wait for him to enter the open market and have to out-bid 3, 4 teams that might seek his services. A team can always get a draft pick back somehow, so wouldn’t you rather do a deal than risk some poorly-run team wildly over-bidding to get Smith in the open market? TED

    January 30th, 2013 4:26 pm

  23. overtime

    Port…Thanks for reading. Apparently the 49ers disagree with you. You forget the string of offensive schemes…the injuries…the horrendous head coaches before Harbaugh and that Smith played for some of the worst teams in 49ers’ history. Alex Smith didn’t say a word about the size of his hands, the media did. Ted

    January 30th, 2013 5:05 pm

  24. The Bat

    Makes sense. Either way the Niners come out ahead by not having his cap number next season and possibly gaining a second-or third round pick. Thanks for clarifying – The Bat

    January 30th, 2013 5:21 pm

  25. overtime

    bat…They take a cap hit if they just release Smith, so they’ll trade him for whatever amounts to the best offer, don’t you think? Ted

    January 30th, 2013 5:23 pm

  26. The Bat

    On the other hand it kinda sucks for Smith, because he likely WILL be traded. In order to truly test his freeagent value, he’d have to play out the last year of his contract to whatever team he lands with and hit the market next year.

    January 30th, 2013 5:25 pm

  27. overtime

    The Bat…Figure Smith will find a team that really suits him…then the team will try to sign him to a bit longer deal BEFORE they finalize the trade. He’s still not in a position to expect a 3- or 4-year contract. TED

    January 30th, 2013 6:43 pm

  28. ron

    Alex “deserves” nothing. He has been well paid as a niner and three years ago no one wanted him as a quarterback. i hope he finds some success with next team but he signed contract and football is always what have you done lately. if they trade him, that is teams right to do.

    February 2nd, 2013 10:23 am

  29. overtime

    Ron…Thanks for reading. If I were the 49ers…I’d feel like I owed him something. And, they must agree because they acknowledged they’ll trade him and if that fails they’ll give him his release. TED

    February 2nd, 2013 1:48 pm

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