Alex Smith doesn’t want for much in life. He’s intelligent. He was drafted first overall in the 2005 NFL Draft. He has made millions of dollars and was once the hero of a playoff game that is widely considered a classic. He married a former Oakland Raiders cheerleader, and the two have a one-year-old son.
Even the most blessed in life can feel unfilled — that something’s missing. For Smith, it’s the chance to start for the NFL team of his choosing, or at least the team he likes most that needs a starting quarterback and is willing to pay him. Here’s how Jim Harbaugh responded to the Smith-centric questions today, with the transcript below the video.
Have you met with QB Alex Smith yet?
“No, not individually.”
What’s the next step there?
“Well, the next step, we’ll have a discussion at some point.”
Alex Smith is under contract, but what may be best for him may not be best for the team. How will you work that out with him.. Has he earned the right to decide his future, regardless of the contract year?
“Has he earned the right to decide his own future regardless of being under contract?”
Do you feel personally and business aside?
“Yeah, I have great respect for Alex, great personal friendship, togetherness with Alex, and the team. We feel great about or quarterback situation and can’t have enough good quarterbacks. So, the question you’re asking is does a player have a…?”
Well, he had said he’d like to be a starter somewhere and obviously the team would like to keep him as a backup but he would like to be a starter. Do you think the team will grant him his wish if he wanted to be released?
“I don’t think any player has those wishes granted, that under contract. And everything is different. Every scenario is unique and certainly something that we’re not going to delve into and get into specifics at this point.”
While Jed York said it’s possible the 49ers could fit him under the cap, Smith doesn’t want to back up Kaepernick and everyone saw on Sunday that there a multitude of ways the 49ers can improve — particularly when it comes to depth on defense. The 49ers have until April 1 to trade Smith to another team willing to take on his $8.5 million salary, and there’s nothing that says the 49ers can’t keep Smith past that date and look for the best possible deal.
The question isn’t whether Smith is leaving, it’s when. And it would behoove Harbaugh and Trent Baalke to work out something before April 1. Not just so they aren’t on the hook for an expensive reserve, but because what happens in regards to Smith completely changes they way they’ll approach the draft on April 25-27, when as currently slated they’ll have 14 picks (including three third-rounders). It could change how many picks they have. It could change whether or not they’ll need to draft a quarterback to compete with Scott Tolzein. It could change whether or not they can trade more picks for another free agent, since they’ll have more cap space without Smith on the books.
Then again, the 49ers gambled on Kaepernick. Maybe they’ll keep Smith in their deck and see if the bidding war begins in earnest in those days between April 1 and April 25.
Some believe Darrelle Revis could be in the 49ers’ future, but there might be an opportunity to acquire a high first round pick. It would take a lot, but Atlanta isn’t upset about the five picks they surrendered for Julio Jones, who almost singlehandedly defeated the 49ers a couple weeks ago. And even though Robert Griffin III recently underwent major knee surgery, dealing all those picks to the Rams was still the best personnel move Washington has made since Dan Snyder bought the team. But let’s not get into mock draft territory just yet. Too soon.