Yesterday San Francisco 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke held a press conference at the NFL combine, among the issues he was asked to address was the status of back up quarterback Alex Smith. And whether or not the 49ers would be trading Smith in the coming weeks. To no one’s surprise, Baalke was noncommittal on where the team stands in regards to Smith.
"We’re going to look at all the options available. Are we going to trade him for sure? No, that hasn’t been decided."
While the statement follows the pattern of just about every 49ers statement, that being very tight lipped. It really only unnecessarily prolongs the outcome. The entire sports world knows that the 49ers will trade Smith. It is not in the best interest of the team to keep him on the roster for 2013. Smith is guaranteed 7.5 million dollars if he is still on the roster by April first. And he is essentially the back up quarterback. He will be the highest paid back up quarterback in history if they do not trade him. And he will make six million more than the starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Not only that, the 49ers are one million dollars over the salary cap as it stands right now. Wouldn’t trading or eliminating the Smith salary afford them opportunities in other areas of need? There is no logical reason to keep his salary with the team, so the evasive maneuvering around trade questions is really unnecessary. They know they will end up trading Smith, the media knows they will end up trading Smith, and the rest of the league knows they will end up trading Smith.
If the 49ers think that by creating smoke and mirrors, that they can drive the price up for Smith, they are woefully mistaken. The league, and especially teams in need of a quarterback, knows that the 49ers will eventually have to trade Smith. There have been reports that the interest in Smith around the league is not very high. Of course not, not right now anyway, there would be no reason for other teams to beg for his services, just so the 49ers can raise the price for acquiring him. It is a cat and mouse game they are all playing for no reason. In the end, there will be a team that wants to trade for Smith, and Smith will pack his bags and leave San Francisco.
Unless of course the 49ers, after looking at the way the playoffs transpired, want to keep Smith to compete for the starting job again. And it isn’t that far out of the question. In all three playoff games this year, the 49ers had to come back from huge deficits in the first half to compete for the win. That’s not an endearing feature of the team moving forward. And if you consider the record that the two quarterbacks have it becomes even more enticing to keep Smith around. Smith in two years has a 20-6 record, including the playoffs, and you can’t give him the tie against the Rams because he didn’t finish the game due to concussion. Kaepernick has a 7-3-1 record in just 11 games, including playoffs.
By that standard, Smith has a higher winning percentage than Kaepernick. But alas, it’s fairly certain that the 49ers have made their decision. And there is no need to hide that fact any longer.