Alex Smith

49ers leave Alex Smith without many options

Alex Smith was in Miami today, meeting with the Dolphins for over five hours. Reports are that he’s “stunned and jaded over his plight” with the 49ers, a statement that takes the definition of “plight” and throws it into the nearest garbage disposal.

It has to be upsetting for Smith to realize he’s probably no more than a pawn for his own agent, Tom Condon, who answers to a higher power than Smith — one with a much larger forehead. Proving that the New York Jets and Mark Sanchez only exist to stir up trouble, Smith (a better QB than Sanchez in 2011, with the added bonus that he isn’t a douche) wants Sanchize dough:

A league source told the Daily News that Sanchez would earn $20.5 million in guarantees for 2012 and 2013. The fourth-year quarterback is set to earn $40.5 million over the final three years. The total value of his new-look five-year deal is $58.25 million.

It’s more complicated than that, with non-guaranteed base salaries from 2014-16 for Sanchez. That makes it easier for the Jets to cut ties with Mr. GQ when/if things don’t go well. But if you’re Smith and the only offer from the 49ers is a decidedly not elite 3-year/$24 million package, it’s clear why Smith wasn’t in a hurry to rejoin the coach he caddied for at Pebble.

Receivers? Who needs ’em?

Smith probably figured he’d be a 49er by now, and he’s not. He probably figured if for some reason the Niners went after Peyton Manning, he’d have several options. Now that Matt Flynn is a Seattle Seahawk, he doesn’t. Smith probably thought that no matter what, he’d have better receivers than he ended the 2011 season with. If he signs with the Dolphins, he won’t:

Oh, and you can take that first guy off the list. Oy vey. After looking at the Dolphins’ depth chart, Michael Crabtree suddenly looks like Jerry Rice … or at least John Taylor.

Reuniting with his former high school teammate (Reggie Bush) might sound fun, until he looks to each side and sees Brian Hartline and Davone Bess. Bye bye Vernon Davis, hello Anthony Fasano. The Dolphins have the No. 8 pick in the NFL Draft, which means if they want an elite receiver they’ll probably either have to trade up a couple spots to grab Justin Blackmon or reach a bit on a guy like Michael Floyd or Kendall Wright.

At least Mike Nolan isn’t around anymore, or Smith probably couldn’t bear to even make the trip to South Beach.

This isn’t to say we should feel sorry for Smith, who needed Jim Harbaugh and another chance with the 49ers (afforded by the lockout) if he wanted to remain a starting quarterback in the NFL. Plus, the guy’s made over $50 million dollars in a 7-year career where he’s averaged less than 10 passing touchdowns annually.

The NFL is a brutal business, but Smith’s gotten chance after chance after chance. Yes, he had his best year and led the 49ers to a 13-3 record and a wildly entertaining NFC Divisional Round win over the Saints. However, do the 49ers owe Smith anything just because he’s had to deal with several coaches and coordinators? He was lucky to be brought back, and if any other coach than Harbaugh made that call (or the 2011 off-season was a normal one), here’s what the response to the Niners re-signing Smith would’ve been: No. 11 jerseys and Padres hats doused in lighter fluid and torched in backyards from Eureka to Santa Cruz.

Now, Smith’s in the same position the 49ers were before the 2011 season. The 49ers didn’t have many choices, so they had to hold their noses, bring back Smith and hope he wouldn’t commit turnovers. Now that Smith’s ace in the hole looks to be in jeopardy, he has to scrounge around LeBronland, hoping all the while that Peyton Manning heads to Tennessee to get some of of that old Volunteer love.

What, you don’t think Smith would come back to the 49ers and drop his pride into the compost bin? If your other option was Stephen Ross, fourth-tier WRs and the last years of Bush, wouldn’t you?

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