Arizona guard and former 49er Adam Snyder said Wednesday it will be up to the Cardinals' front office to decide who will be the team's quarterback in 2013. But if anyone approached him about Alex Smith, Snyder said, he'd be a strong advocate.
"If someone asked me about him, I would tell them exactly what I thought," Snyder said on a conference call. "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."
Several teams will be looking for a starting quarterback in the offseason. One of them promises to be Arizona, which will start its fourth quarterback Brian Hoyer of the season in Sunday's regular-season finale in San Francisco.
The 49ers will owe Smith $7.5 million on April 1. If Colin Kaepernick remains the starter at that point, it's unlikely they'd want Smith for that amount of money.
Along with offensive tackle Joe Staley, Snyder was Smith's closest friend on the 49ers before the Cardinals signed Snyder as a free agent last offseason. Snyder admitted he was "very surprised" when he learned Smith had been replaced by Kaepernick.
Smith's last full game was against the Cardinals, a 24-3 San Francisco victory Oct. 29 during which Smith was 18 for 19 passing. He suffered a concussion in the following game and lost his starting job.
"I just think that Alex worked for seven years to get to the position he was in," Snyder said. "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? 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."
Another member of the 2005 draft class, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, also has expressed dismay about the turn of events that landed Smith on the bench.
"He comes in, he's 70 percent completion, he's 100-plus quarterback rating last year, he's like barely over 1 percent interception percentage," Rodgers said on the NFL Network earlier this month. "He's a great quarterback. He just needs to go somewhere he gets appreciated for the skills he has, and hopefully he gets a chance next year."