Turron Davenport of Press Coverage Sports is back with another guest post. This time he takes a look at the Alex Smith situation.[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he 49ers have a decision on their hands. Alex Smith is set to earn a pretty large amount of money that is too much for a backup quarterback. The name that one of my favorite people to talk football with Brad Smith aka @TheDeepDig applies now more than ever. He aptly coined the nickname “Chapter 11” years ago as we constantly debated about Alex Smith. He was the quarterback for the 49ers two years when they reached the NFC Championship. He was also the quarterback for half of the past season which resulted in a Super Bowl appearance.
There are different schools of thought when it comes to what the future for Alex Smith should be.
Some feel that Alex Smith “deserves” to be treated better and that he should have never lost his job due to an injury. I wonder if those same people feel the same about the Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe situation. After all, Bledsoe took the Patriots to the Super Bowl in 1996 and was a major reason why they made it there. Alex was quick to share the story of how he became a starter at the University of Utah. He took over for Brett Elliott who was injured and never got his job back either.
Jim Harbaugh did an excellent job of working with Smith as a player. He took advantage of his athleticism by having him run sweeps such as the 25 yard touchdown run during the Saints playoff game. He also installed a high percentage passing offense which highlighted Smith’s ability to almost always take what the defense gives him (check downs). Many people point to the Cardinals game as an example that he can play at a high level. Yes, Alex Smith did manage to have a near record-breaking performance, however if you look closely you will see that Alex Smith did complete 18 out of 19 passes and none of them traveled over twenty yards.
If Alex Smith is brought back next year he will be making $7.5 million. He is scheduled to receive a roster bonus of $2 – $3 million soon. The 49ers are approximately $2.5 million under the salary cap. They have very little room to retain a backup player that makes so much money. The other teams in the NFL are aware of this. One of the teams that have a need at quarterback also happens to have a Head Coach that reportedly thinks highly of Alex. The problem with the Chiefs is they hold a very high pick in each round so their draft picks hold a very high value. Sal Paolantonio of ESPN was on SiriusXMNFL Radio recently and he said that the 49ers would be likely to ask the Chiefs for their 2nd round pick in exchange for Alex Smith. It is very unlikely that the Chiefs trade the 33rd overall selection to the 49ers. Another ESPN reporter, Chris Mortensen actually reported that the trade market for Alex Smith is cold.
Two other possible destinations for Alex Smith are the Browns and the Jets. The Browns just drafted Brandon Weeden in the first round last year. However, prior to Jim Harbaugh, Norv Turner (Browns’ new offensive coordinator) was the only coach to have been able to actually get some production from Smith. The Jets are stuck with Mark Sanchez and his high cap number so it is not likely that they can afford another higher priced quarterback on their roster. Unfortunately for the 49ers, the best destination for Alex Smith is the Arizona Cardinals.
This year’s quarterback draft class is not the most impressive one. Geno Smith has emerged as the top prospect. Matt Barkley is a prospect that saw his stock fall after he didn’t have a stellar senior season. The list of free agent quarterbacks isn’t too great either. These are two factors that should increase Alex Smith’s value.
Alex Smith is a very well – liked player in the NFL. The way he handled the demotion during the season should bode well for him with his possible future suitors. In the right situation he can be a pretty effective quarterback. The problem is that he will never be that box score quarterback that so many people focus on in this fantasy football statistical era. He is not the gun slinging quarterback that a coach depends upon to throw the ball 30 -40 times a game. He needs to be in a ball control style offense.
It would be good for the 49ers to acquire another draft pick for a player that they are likely to release. They have 14 picks already and could package a few picks to move up in the draft. It would also be for the 49ers to release Alex Smith because this will open up some cap room. That being said, at this point coming back to the 49ers as a backup quarterback is an option that should not be ruled out. It will be very interesting seeing how this saga will play out.
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