|Alex Smith met with the Dolphins Sunday and could visit with the Seahawks later in the week. (Getty Images)|
Alex Smith's first six NFL seasons were filled with uncertainties -- about who would be his offensive coordinator, about the offense he'd be running, and about his place on the depth chart. And then in 2011, San Francisco hired Jim Harbaugh and Smith helped lead the 49ers to a 13-3 record and the NFC Championship game.
|2012 NFL free agency coverage|
|NFL coverage on the go|
San Francisco, Denver and Tennessee are in the running for Manning's services but even before Harbaugh watched Manning workout last week, the organization reportedly offered Smith a three-year, $24 million contract. Not bad money for a backup but also not a contract befitting a Pro Bowler fresh off a 3,144-yard season that included a 61.3 completion percentage, 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
According to the Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows, it's more than just the bottom line:
"Smith, according to soured, is upset at the 49ers, perhaps not because the monetary offer they made him … but because of the job security it provides. Smith felt the 49ers made a commitment to him as their future starter that was not reflected in the contract offer."
CSNBayArea.com's Matt Maiocco adds that "If Smith signed the three-year offer, the door would have been open for Colin Kaepernick to take over as the starter at any point without the 49ers taking much of a financial hit from Smith's deal."
It explains Smith meeting with the Dolphins Sunday and it sheds light on this nugget, also via Barrows: Smith's scheduled to visit the Seahawks later this week.
Seattle started Tarvaris Jackson for much of last season but was reportedly interested in Manning in recent weeks. On Friday, the team hosted Matt Flynn before he made his way to meet with the Dolphins.
If Smith bolts and Manning signs elsewhere the 49ers could be in a predicament. Kaepernick, the 2011 second-round pick, is still raw and probably not ready to assume the starting gig. (Then again, nobody thought Smith would play as well as he did in '11, even if it was in a conservative offense and he embodied the game-manager role. Maybe Kaepernick would be fine, especially with that 49ers' defense.)
Alternatives could include Matt Hasselbeck, who would be available if Manning landed in Tennessee, or Tim Tebow if Manning signed with Denver (maybe on the former, almost certainly not on the latter). The best option, obviously: sell Manning on the Bay Area. But the longer he waits to make a decision, the more likely it seems that Smith has taken his last snap for the 49ers.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our NFL newsletter.