Smith, 49ers relationship can be mended

Smith, 49ers relationship can be mended
March 19, 2012, 4:45 pm
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It was a relationship built on trust and loyalty.Now, quarterback Alex Smith has reason to feel jilted. The 49ers came in on the low end of a three-year offer and then moved quickly to attract Peyton Manning to replace him.MAIOCCO: Manning to Broncos; 49ers back to Smith as top option
Coach Jim Harbaugh's relationship with Smith might not be impacted, as long as Smith's discontent is directed more at general manager Trent Baalke, as a source close to Smith intimated Monday morning to chose the Denver Broncos over the 49ers and Tennessee Titans. Now, Smith returns to being the 49ers' top target in free agency.It's not a perfect situation, but the damage is not irreparable.Harbaugh and Smith built a nice rapport over the past 14 months. That might not change, as long as he remains the good cop to Baalke's role as bad cop.Baalke, who heads the draft, pulled the trigger last April on a draft-day trade that enabled the 49ers to move up to select Colin Kaepernick with the No. 36 pick in the draft.Because the 49ers want to leave the door open for Kaepernick to take over at some point in the near future, the 49ers presented Smith with the kind of contract offer -- three years, 24 million -- that would make it easy to make a quarterback switch in the near future.So, now, the question becomes: Which organization gives Smith his best chance?The Miami Dolphins hosted Smith on a free-agent visit Sunday. The Dolphins aren't going to offer Smith much more than the 49ers. And Smith would compete with Matt Moore and a possible rookie addition. The Dolphins hold the No. 8 overall pick.Meanwhile, Smith would come in as the presumptive 49ers starter ahead of Kaepernick. On the surface, the 49ers still offer Smith his best opportunity to start on a winning team in 2012.

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