When you have a good backup quarterback, it’s always a hard decision. The San Francisco 49ers don’t want to pay Alex Smith so much money (two years, $16 million) just for sitting on the bench, and it looks like the Philadelphia Eagles, not pleased with their QB situation, might try and make a move.
Now, Alex Smith is worlds away from the quarterbacks Chip Kelly liked having at Oregon – he isn’t very mobile, and needs a very certain system around him to succeed. The 49ers had that kind of system – a huge and effective offensive line, a strong running game and a defense that wasn’t’ completely reliant on his ability to score.
The Eagles have two very capable running backs – LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown, and if all their injured offensive linemen come back soon enough, their O-line will be much better than it was last season. The defense is probably going to shift from a 4-3 to a 3-4, still without a defensive coordinator. They have a problem there.
Smith isn’t a franchise changing quarterback, but he is an experienced one, who has already led a team to the postseason and even won a game in the 2011 season with some big throwing. Under the right conditions, he’s a very suitable solution to have. Michael Vick has probably burned all the bridges he had in Philly, while Nick Foles doesn’t look like starting material at the moment, but who’s to say that developing behind Smith isn’t a good way to start your NFL career? Just look at Colin Kaepernick.
There’s also the issue of how this works. If the 49ers don’t release Smith until April 1, he’ll be owed $13 million, instead of $1 million if they trade him or release him before that date. Smith wants to be able to pick the team he goes to next; the 49ers are inclined to agree with him, but still want to make this a trade situation. Maybe they’ll simply include him in the selection process.
Whatever the choice is, Alex Smith will probably never play again for the San Francsico 49ers after the Super Bowl, unless something very unexpected happens there. With plenty of teams in need of an experienced quarterback, Smith doesn’t have too much to be worried about, at least for the near future, hoping he lands with a teams that suits his talents and limitations.