Report: Alex Smith will seek release from 49ers before free agency

It's going to be a bittersweet week in New Orleans for 49ers backup quarterback Alex Smith. And it might be his last run as a member of the 49ers.

The team is expected to try to trade Smith this offseason, given the $8.5 million he's owed in 2013. But a trade isn't the only way out of San Francisco -- Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that Smith "is expected to seek" his outright release from the 49ers this offseason.

It wouldn't be stunning if Smith is released: CBS Sports Jason La Canfora had Smith as his No. 3-ranked free-agent quarterback, a list made well in advance of even the Super Bowl. Smith and his big contract won't -- or, perhaps, can't --be  in a backup role for all of 2013.

And trading him, especially if other teams are expecting his release, won't be any easier with a hefty contract.

But any idea that the 49ers will simply just outright release Smith without even attempting to get anything in return for the serviceable quarterback is a little naïve. Yes, Smith's been quiet while the 49ers turned to Kaepernick and left him on the bench.

He's also been the beneficiary of two sizable contracts from the team during his run in San Francisco. The notion that the 49ers should throw out the best interests of the team in order to let Smith choose where he plays football might be nice, but it's not exactly good business.

Of course, it might be the end result anyway, if San Francisco can't find any takers on the trade market for Smith.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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