Moving parts aplenty in 49ers' QB drama

March 18, 2012, 6:03 pm
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Quarterback Alex Smith did not sign the 49ers' contract offer, which was presented to him weeks ago, because he sought more security from the organization whose coach called him "elite."
If Smith signed the three-year offer, the door would have been open for Colin Kaepernick to take over as the starter at any point without the 49ers taking much of a financial hit from Smith's deal.REPORT: Smith considers firing agent
It was clear that Smith and his agent, Tom Condon, figured their best option was to play the waiting game.Meanwhile, the 49ers began their pursuit of Peyton Manning while feeling secure that their offer to Smith reflected his true market value. After all, which team would be willing to pay Smith more than 8 million a season?Perhaps we'll soon find out.Smith took a red-eye flight from San Francisco to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., early Sunday morning to visit with the Miami Dolphins.RELATED: Alex Smith on visit to meet with Dolphins
The Dolphins visited Saturday with free-agent Matt Flynn, who spent four seasons as Aaron Rodgers' backup with the Green Bay Packers. Flynn worked closely with new Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, who served those seasons as Packers offensive coordinator.And, yes, this whole situation has taken an interesting twist.Davis Hsu, who writes a blog on the Seattle Seahawks, spotted Smith flying first class on his red-eye flight. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel met Smith at the airport early Sunday morning."This is the NFL," Smith told the paper. "I guess nothing surprises me anymore. I never thought a year ago (Peyton) Manning would be a free agent either. I'm never surprised by anything."There are a lot of moving parts right now in this whole 49ers quarterback drama . . . Peyton Manning: A breathless country awaits his decision. He has worked out for the 49ers, Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans. Do the 49ers have a chance? The team kept its defense together. And they've added Randy Moss and Mario Manningham to the receiving corps. The 49ers appear to be in the best spot among the Manning contenders to make a Super Bowl bid.Matt Flynn: He has shown to be a capable backup. But his sample size is small. In four seasons, he has two starts. Career stats: 82 of 132 (62.1 percent) for 1,015 yards with nine TDs and five interceptions. He visited the Seattle Seahawks and the Dolphins. The 49ers are not in the mix for Flynn, but his move has an impact on Smith.
Matt Hasselbeck: If Manning signs with the Titans, Hasselbeck will be cut free. The 49ers wanted -- and thought they were going to sign -- Hasselbeck last summer. They'd probably go after him again if he becomes available.Josh Johnson: The former Tampa Bay backup has not been nearly as impressive in his limited action as Flynn. He has a history with Jim Harbaugh (he was his quarterback at the University of San Diego). But it's clear now that a close relationship with Harbaugh means nothing. As should be the case with any coach, Harbaugh simply wants the best player he can get.Colin Kaepernick: The 49ers are infatuated with Kaepernick's physical tools. But is Kaepernick ready? It seems he knows only one speed on his passes, so he needs a lot of refinement to get ready for NFL game action. The 49ers traded up to take him with the 36th overall draft pick last year. Andy Dalton was chosen one spot ahead of him, and Dalton proved he was ready as a rookie with a solid season for the Cincinnati Bengals.Scott Tolzien: He spent his rookie season as the 49ers' third quarterback. He'll get a chance in training camp to earn his way back on the roster, but he is not considered starter material just yet.And, then, of course . . . Alex Smith: His trip to South Florida on Sunday to meet with the Dolphins is his first career free-agent visit. The Dolphins are also pursuing Flynn, though. The 49ers want Manning. But, of course, there is still a chance that Smith returns to the 49ers. Also, the Seahawks could get into the mix. The Seahawks brought in Flynn for a visit. Tarvaris Jackson ended last season as the Seahawks starter. Former 49ers GM Scot McCloughan is a personnel executive with the Seahawks.Ultimately, the market will decide where Smith ends up -- and whether he's a starter, backup or will merely find himself in another training camp competition.

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