Less than a year after the 49ers signed Alex Smith to a three-year deal with some $16.5 million in guarantees, the 2005 first-overall pick will likely be elsewhere in 2013 thanks to the emergence of Colin Kaepernick. Luckily, there are plenty of quarterback-needy teams, many of which will be willing to pay a premium for someone with Smith's talents.
And while the former Utah star isn't a guy you can build an offense around, he's made "game manager" something other than a pejorative term. Smith helped lead San Francisco to a 13-3 record in 2011 and he was having similar success in 2012 before he was sidelined by a concussion, losing his job to Kaepernick in the process.
So assuming Smith and the 49ers part ways in the coming months, where might he end up? Off the top of our heads, these teams are in desperate need of something resembling a quarterback: the Jets, Bills, Jags, Chiefs, and Cards.
And if anybody cares what Arizona guard Adam Snyder thinks, he'd love to see Smith in the Valley of the Sun next season. Smith, as it turns out, spent his first seven seasons with the 49ers, so not only can he speak from experience when it comes to Smith, he also has some understanding of what it means to block for the likes of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley.
"If someone asked me about him, I would tell them exactly what I thought," Snyder said via the Sacramento Bee's Matthew Barrows. "I think the guy's got unbelievable character, and I think he's a leader. Obviously, he and I came in together [in 2005]. So I've got a special place for him."
The Cardinals are all too familiar with what it means to take a gamble and lose on a franchise quarterback. They sent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick to the Eagles for Kolb, who they promptly signed to a $63-million extension. To call Kolb's two years in Arizona an unmitigated disaster would be an understatement.
But unlike Kolb, who was a backup for virtually his entire career in Philly, teams know what Smith can and can't do.
"He was 19-5 [in the past two seasons] and had the best QB rating in the league and was doing his job to win games, you know?" Snyder continued. "I don't know. It was surprising to me. But, hey, they get paid to make those decisions, and that's the decision they went with."
Smith won't be the next coming of Kurt Warner but he'd be a huge upgrade over every quarterback that coach Ken Whisenhunt has put under center in a post-Warner world. Whether that's reason enough to entice the organization to go after him instead of looking to the draft (or elsewhere) is another matter. We'll find out one way or the other in the coming weeks and months.
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