Inside The Bills

49ers “unlikely” to release Alex Smith

Posted by Chris Brown on February 23, 2013 – 12:13 am

There are fans of quarterback needy teams that were hopeful the San Francisco 49ers would part ways with QB Alex Smith after he lost his job to Colin Kaepernick and the team won an NFC championship. According to 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh that’s not going to happen.

At his press conference at the NFL Combine, Harbaugh said the process has to play out with respect to Alex Smith’s future, but did not entertain an outright release of the quarterback.

“Alex is really playing the best football of his career the last two years. And we think we have the best quarterback situation in the National Football League. Feel strongly about that,” said Harbaugh. “Again, that’ll be a process that plays out. Alex Smith, continuing to be a 49ers or if a trade occurs in the next weeks or months. Those are the two possibilities — most-likely possibilities.”

When asked specifically if Smith would be released Harbaugh said the following.

“It’s unlikely.”

Smith is due $7.5M dollars next season in base salary, far too much for a backup quarterback. If he’s still on the roster beyond April 1st that $7.5M is fully guaranteed and the 49ers would have a $9.75M cap hit. It’s likely that the 49ers approach Smith to ask him to restructure his contract, which has two years remaining. If a restructured deal is palatable to the 49ers and Smith agrees to live with being a backup he’ll stay, otherwise he’ll likely be traded.

Refusing to budge on his current contract at all could presumably make a release more likely, but right now San Francisco’s head coach has made a release sound like a last resort at best.

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