Why it makes sense for 49ers to trade Alex Smith


Why it makes sense for 49ers to trade Alex Smith

There have been a couple times during Alex Smith's career that it was difficult to envision him returning to play the following season for the 49ers.

The first time was after the 2008 season. Smith experienced shoulder injuries that wiped out most of 2007 and all of 2008. However, Smith accepted a huge pay cut to remain with the 49ers in 2009.

The second time Smith appeared destined to leave the 49ers was following the 2010 season. He was clearly ready for a new chapter in his life. But, then, Jim Harbaugh came along and an agreement was reached. Both sides came to the conclusion that it made sense for Smith to remain with the 49ers on a one-year deal.

(Last offseason, there was always the sense Smith would return as a free agent even throughout the whole Peyton Manning saga.)

But now that Harbaugh has made the move to go with second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the 49ers' starter, it seems Smith is back in that old familiar position of uncertainty.

Smith signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the 49ers in the offseason. Because that contract is so reasonable, it gives the 49ers some options.

If Smith is on the 49ers' roster on April 1, 2013, his entire $7.5 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed.

Obviously, a $7.5 million salary for a backup quarterback does not seem realistic when the presumptive starter, Kaepernick, is scheduled to make $740,000 in base pay.

If the 49ers were to get rid of Smith's base salary, they could then use that money to tender safety Dashon Goldson at the franchise tag of $7.45 million.

Smith is the 20th-highest-paid quarterback in the league (see table below), which could make him an attractive option for some quarterback-needy team to acquire in a trade -- probably for a 2014 draft pick.

Smith is scheduled for a base salary of $7.5 million in both 2013 and 2014.

If the 49ers simply released Smith before April 1, they would still owe him $1 million. So it would help the 49ers on the salary cap, as well as enable the organization to accumulate a future draft pick, if they could get something for Smith via an offseason trade.

Here's how Smith's average salary per season ranks among other quarterbacks in the NFL (with years the deals span):

Average QB salaries per year
1. Drew Brees $20 million (2012-2016)
2. Peyton Manning $19.2 million (2012-'16)
3. Tom Brady $18 million (2010-'14)
4. Eli Manning $16.25 (2009-'15)
5. Michael Vick $16 million (2011-'16)
6. Matt Schaub $15.5 million (2012-'16)
7. Philip Rivers $15.3 million (2009-'15)
8. Jay Cutler $14.67 (2009-'13)
9. Ben Roethlisberger $14.67 million (2011-'15)
10. Mark Sanchez $13.49 (2012-'16)
11. Sam Bradford $13 million (2012-'15)
12. Aaron Rodgers $12.7 million (2008-'14)
13. Kevin Kolb $12.42 million (2011-'16)
14. Matthew Stafford $12.25 million (2012-'15)
15. Tony Romo $11.25 million (2011-'16)
16. Matt Ryan $11.25 million (2008-'13)
17. Carson Palmer $10.75 (2012-'16)
18. Ryan Fitzpatrick $9.83 million (2011-'17)
19. Matt Cassel $9.67 million (2009-'14)
20. Alex Smith $8 million (2012-'14)
21. Matt Hasselbeck $6.67 million (2011-'13)
22. Matt Flynn $6.5 million (2012-'14)
23. Andrew Luck $5.53 million (2012-2015)
24. Cam Newton $5.5 million (2011-'14)
25. Robert Griffin $5.28 million (2012-'15)
26. Josh Freeman $5.24 million (2009-'13)
27. Joe Flacco $4.76 million (2008-'12)

45. Colin Kaepernick $1.28 million (2011-'14)

(NFL Players Association sources)


Report: 49ers free agent ILB signing with rival Seahawks

Report: 49ers free agent ILB signing with rival Seahawks

Michael Wilhoite has spent his whole five-year NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers.

But now the free agent inside linebacker is reportedly switching sides in the NFC West rivalry. Wilhoite is set to sign with the Seattle Seahawks, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. 

Terms of the deal are unknown at this time. 

Wilhoite, 30, played in all 16 games last season for the 49ers, starting in only six. In 2016 he recorded 55 tackles, 30 less than 2015 in four less games, and forced one fumble. 

After earning a promotion from the 49ers' practice squad in 2012, Wilhoite's career in the Bay Area comes to an end with 268 tackles and three interceptions in 65 games. 

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NEW YORK -- NFL owners will consider proposals next week to cut regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10; eliminate players leaping over the line on kick plays; and expansion of coaches' challenges and what can be reviewed by officials.

In what promises to be a busy annual meeting next week in Phoenix that will include discussing the Raiders' potential relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, the 32 owners also will vote on changing the mechanics on replay reviews and other items intended to reduce downtime during games.

The Eagles proposed four rules changes, including abolishing the leaping techniques that league football operations director Troy Vincent said Thursday "don't belong in the game."

Seattle and Buffalo co-authored a proposal allowing a coach to challenge any officiating decision, whether a foul is called or not.

"That is a significant change to our current replay rule and it is something that will be on the floor and will be debated next week," NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino said.

Another major change would be the reduction of overtime in-season; the extra period in the playoffs would remain at 15 minutes. The powerful competition committee, of which Vincent and Blandino are members, believed it's a player safety issue, noting that number of snaps for games going to OT - especially deep into the overtime - is excessive. Especially if a team has a quick turnaround.

"We don't know where a team is going to be playing the next week, it could be four days later," said committee chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons. "We felt we should put an end to it. We don't think it will lead to more ties. Could it? It could, but we are not concerned with that."

As for changing the format of overtime to ensure both teams always get a possession - a popular topic after how the Super Bowl ended - Blandino said the league's wants to keep the element of sudden death in the extra period.

The "leaper rule" has taken some priority among competition committee members, the players' union and coaches. Vincent said coaches have begun scheming how to defense it, which can "create a real safety issue."

"It is really in the best interest of the game" to outlaw leaping on kicks," Vincent added.

McKay noted that the NCAA is in the process of passing a similar ban on the technique.

During the meetings that run from Sunday to Wednesday, the teams will be shown plays the competition committee believes should result in suspensions or ejections. Game officials already have had the leeway to eject players, but it rarely has happened; there were three in 2016.

"They don't happen very often, let's give the players credit," McKay said. "We have 40,000 plays in a year. We'll show a tape that will have four or five plays that would warrant suspension. This is not a widespread situation."

Added Vincent, a former NFL defensive back: "When you see the plays, they are catastrophic. We had two players who did not return for the season. They are high-impact plays that belong out of the game. It will be a real point of emphasis this season."