Why it makes sense for 49ers to trade Alex Smith

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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)

Also
45. Colin Kaepernick 1.28 million (2011-'14)(NFL Players Association sources)

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.”