By Chuck Schilken
9:47 AM PST, January 28, 2013
Alex Smith is expected to ask for his release from the San Francisco 49ers before the start of free agency, according to a report Monday by Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.
What could possibly make Smith want to leave a team that is just days away from playing in the Super Bowl and looks to be the makings of an NFL powerhouse for years to come?
Just a hunch, but it might have something to do with the fact that the former starting quarterback was benched midseason despite taking the 49ers to the brink of the Super Bowl last year and had completed 70% of his passes in leading the team to a 6-2-1 record this season.
Oh yeah, that. Well, perhaps Smith has reason to be a bit peeved. But you've got to admit that his replacement at quarterback, second-year player Colin Kaepernick, has been pretty electrifying in helping San Francisco over the hump and back into the big game for the first time since the mid-1990s.
Which leads us to what likely is the real reason for Smith's expected request. He's due to make $8.5 million next season, which seems a bit expensive for a backup quarterback. So it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that the 49ers will seek to trade him during the off-season.
In that scenario, Smith would get to keep his hefty salary but presumably would have no say in where he ends up. The opposite is true if he is released, but at least Smith would be free to pursue the best possible situation for himself.
Either way, Smith's tenure with the team that drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2005 appears to be nearing an end. All that remains to be seen is whether he will get a Super Bowl ring as a parting gift.
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