What should the 49ers do with Alex Smith?

Leading Off: Should the 49ers keep Smith as backup QB?

Published: Monday, Feb. 18, 2013 - 12:01 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 - 8:09 am

The 49ers' biggest decision in the offseason won't involve the April draft or possible free-agent signings.

Should the 49ers make the best deal they can and send Alex Smith packing? Or should they keep him as a backup to starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick?

ESPN reported last week that the trade market for Smith is "limited" and there's "not a large buzz" with teams searching for a starting quarterback.

If true, that's surprising considering how well Smith played before he went down because of a concussion and was replaced by Kaepernick.

On the one hand, Smith was considered a bust until Jim Harbaugh became the 49ers' coach and designed a game plan that fit Smith's strengths as a "safe" quarterback, one who would protect the ball and make few mistakes. There's a school of thought that Harbaugh made Smith successful and he's not a top-tier NFL starter.

On the other hand, Smith is 19-5-1 as a starter over the past two seasons, he led the 49ers within a muffed punt return of the Super Bowl in 2011 and he completed 70.2 percent of his passes and had a 104.1 passer rating in 2012 before he was injured.

If the market for Smith really has grown bearish, the 49ers should keep him, despite his $7.5 million price tag for the 2013 season. Smith has proven he's a team guy, someone who won't bellyache about playing time.

And every time Kaepernick takes off with the ball, there's a chance he could get hit so hard he has to leave the game. If that happens, it would be nice to have a quarterback with Smith's experience ready to step in.

What to watch

One on One with Ahmad Rashad, 5 p.m., NBA: With the NBA off, check out an interview with Michael Jordan. If you forget to set the DVR, it will be repeated at 8 p.m.

Today's poll

What should the 49ers do with Alex Smith?

• Trade him

• Keep him

Vote above or leave your comments in the comments field; or go to www.sacbee.com/sports

Weekend poll results

Who is the greatest pro athlete of all time?

• Michael Jordan: 39%

• Willie Mays: 19%

• Muhammad Ali: 22%

• Wayne Gretzky: 9%

• Jim Brown: 6%

• Tiger Woods: 5%

Total votes: 367

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