Reports surfaced early last week that Smith would request his contract release before the start of free agency, given that Colin Kaepernick had secured the starting role for the 49ers. But now the 49ers are looking trade Smith, so they can get some type of value in return.
There are some around the league who believe the 49ers will be successful in finding a suitor for Smith because there is a lack of available quarterbacks, which means a high demand for Smith. Adam Schefter of ESPN has mentioned the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs as possible trade destinations for Smith.
Smith worked closely with San Francisco’s offensive coordinator Norv Turner in 2006. Turner is now newly hired Browns offensive coordinator. The Chiefs newly hired coach, Andy Reid, has also expressed interest in Smith.
If the 49ers trade Smith, they will save the $1 million or $2 million roster bonus it would have to pay him if he is released. The new team that would acquire Smith in the trade would have to pay him $8.5 million in 2013, but they may want to renegotiate his contract, and Smith may not welcome the thought of that.
Smith, who is the former No. 1 pick in the 2005 NFL draft, lost his starting job when he sustained a concussion in the second quarter of the 49ers game against the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 11. Smith sat out the next game against the Chicago Bears and watched Kaepernick make his epic debut.
Before Smith’s injury he had thrown for 1,737 yards and 13 touchdowns. One of his best performances came against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 29. He went 18-of-19 for 232 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Smith was the ultimate professional and never complained about losing his starting job and continued to mentor Kaepernick, even in Sunday’s 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl.