Contract talks are for after the season

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Contract talks are for after the season

When is the right time for the 49ers to begin working with quarterback Alex Smith on a contract extension?The answer: When the season is over.Smith has done everything asked of him, beginning in late-April when the 49ers handed the keys of the offense to him on the one day the NFL lockout lifted.Smith sifted through all the material the coaching staff compiled on the new offense. And Smith learned everything he could about the system at a time when he was also learning how to change diapers after becoming a father.In June, Smith was at his best. He organized two sessions of "Camp Alex," and he acted as the 49ers' de facto head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback while also taking care of all the logistics with the folks at San Jose State University.
Coach Jim Harbaugh risked the possibility of fines from the NFL by continuing to heap praise on Smith, who was unsigned. Harbaugh did not care. He had a message he wanted to drive home. He wanted the word out there. He wanted Smith to hear it over and over. Harbaugh wanted everybody to know that he had confidence in Alex Smith.In turn, Smith has confidence in the coaching staff. He knows he is finally being placed in situations to succeed. He trusts his coaches. As a result, Smith is playing with more confidence than he has ever shown in his NFL career. So there is no reason for the 49ers to create any kind of distraction for him at this point with talks toward a new contract. It is a topic that can be addressed when the season has reached its conclusion -- at the end of 16 regular-season games and the 49ers' first playoff appearance since the 2002 season.
Harbaugh last week called Smith an "elite quarterback." But don't expect the 49ers to pay Smith like an elite quarterback.
The Buffalo Bills recently signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a reported seven-year, 62 million contract extension worth 24 million guaranteed. That deal surely raised some eyebrows within the 49ers, who believe the Bills overpaid for a largely unproven commodity.The fact is that money will not be a huge issue with Alex Smith. They have already paid him a lot of money, so that will count for something.
If the 49ers determine they want to retain Alex Smith -- and, right now, I can't see them deciding to toss him to the curb -- it will get done.There is no way -- no way -- Smith will finally experience success with this coaching staff and then decide he wants to start over again in some other NFL city just so he can earn a few more dollars.That's why a contract extension is a topic that can be shelved until after the 49ers have played their final game.

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

PHOENIX – Coach Kyle Shanahan walked into a position with the 49ers in which he had no quarterbacks on the roster.

On the first two days of free agency, the 49ers added Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. He determined they were better fits for the offense he would be installing over Colin Kaepernick, who started 64 regular-season and postseason games for the 49ers over the past 4 ½ seasons.

Shanahan appeared to be looking for quarterbacks who are more proficient at going through progressions and making plays from the pocket. Kaepernick was not deemed as a good fit for Shanahan's offense.

“Colin’s had a great career, and he’s done some really good things,” Shanahan said on Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. “I think Colin has a certain skillset that you can put a specific offense to it that he can be very successful in.

“When we first looked at it, you got to look at each quarterback and what type of offense you want to put in. That wasn’t necessarily the direction I wanted to go. I wanted to put in a different type of offense.”

Kaepernick opted out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. General manager John Lynch has confirmed the 49ers would have released Kaepernick if he had not opted out of his deal.

“The type of offense I wanted to run was somewhat different and that’s why we went that type of direction,” Shanahan said.

The 49ers’ top target in free agency was Hoyer, who enters his ninth NFL season with his sixth different team. Shanahan was offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns in 2014 in Hoyer’s second and final season with the club.

Hoyer started five games with Chicago in 2016 before getting sidelined with broken left arm. Hoyer completed 67 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions in 200 attempts.

“All these questions about what I like in a quarterback, Brian is like that,” Shanahan said. “He’s obsessed with the game. He will learn your offense. He’ll be able to execute and run it. That gives other guys a chance to perform in your offense. If your quarterback can’t execute it and go through it, it doesn’t always matter what the O-line or the receivers are doing.

“With Brian, you have a very smart guy who works at it, will hang in the pocket and is fearless, will keep his eyes down the field and deliver the ball to the right spots. It gives people a chance to be successful.”

The 49ers also reached a contract agreement with Barkley, who started six games with the Bears due to injuries to Jay Cutler and Hoyer. Barkley saw the most extensive playing time of his career. He completed 59.7 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

“Just watching Matt since college, Matt’s always been a solid player, even coming out and playing at an early age at (USC),” Shanahan said. “He’s battle-tested in that way. He’s gone through the pressure of college, the pressure of the draft, being in the NFL, being with some different teams. Even watching Matt in Chicago this year, I think he played better this year than he has throughout his career. That means the guy is continuing to work at it.”

The 49ers figure to go to training camp with four quarterbacks, so the team is not finished at the quarterback position.

“We’ll look to add anyone who can really help us,” Shanahan said. “I’m very happy with the two we got. You know we’re not only going to take two to camp. So we got to see how the draft works out and then you see what else is out there.”

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

PHOENIX – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday he does not believe quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being “blackballed” in his attempt to continue his career.

“I haven’t heard that from our clubs in any way that that’s an issue,” Goodell said during his press conference to conclude the NFL owners meetings.

“My experience in 35 years is that our clubs make independent evaluations of players. They work hard to try to improve their teams. But if they think a player can help improve their team, they’re going to do that.”

Kaepernick remains unsigned as an unrestricted free agent after opting out of his 49ers contract earlier this month. Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman this week was asked on ESPN’s "First Take" whether he felt Kaepernick was being blackballed.

"I'm sure he is," Sherman answered. "It's difficult to see because he's played at such a high level, and you see guys, quarterbacks, who have never played at a high level being signed by teams. So it's difficult to understand."

General manager John Lynch on Tuesday said the 49ers have not had any contact with Kaepernick since he and coach Kyle Shanahan met with Kaepernick on Feb. 22 in Santa Clara. The 49ers signed free-agent quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley have shown no interest in re-signing Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, 29, created a controversy last season when he opted to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial inequality in the United States. Kaepernick has decided to stand for the national anthem this season.

Earlier in the day, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said it was “stupid” and “intellectually lazy” to think teams have colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the league. Last week, former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, John’s brother, said Kaepernick is still an outstanding player and can win championships.

“I absolutely think he’s going to get signed,” John Harbaugh said. “I agree with Jim. He can win games for people.”