The San Francisco 49ers are apparently willing to deal former No. 1 overall draft pick Alex Smith, and the list of likely destinations for the benched veteran quarterback appears to be dwindling.
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star
The Chiefs remain a possible landing spot.
CBSSports.com has reported the 49ers have reached an agreement that would send Smith to an unknown team. A couple of other teams that could be looking for quarterbacks, Jacksonville and Cleveland, have denied they will be Smith’s second destination as a pro.
The Chiefs, who are looking at all options for improving their production at quarterback, have issued no such denial. They hold the top selection in the April 25-27 NFL Draft, but prospects for quarterbacks in this year’s draft class have the Chiefs examining all options, including trades and free agency.
Comments made the past week by new general manager John Dorsey would seem to indicate the Chiefs are unlikely to select a quarterback with the No. 1 draft pick. That doesn’t mean they won’t grab one in the second or later rounds, but it does increase the likelihood that they’ll also be actively pursuing a veteran like Smith.
If the Chiefs or another team is to acquire Smith, the transaction can’t officially take place until the new NFL year begins on March 12. The Sacramento Bee and ESPN.com reported Monday that the 49ers are still exploring trade possibilities, but no deal is in place yet.
The Arizona Cardinals also need a new quarterback, but the fact that they share a division with the 49ers makes a deal between those two teams unlikely. Buffalo also could be in the market for a new quarterback, but so far the Bills have shown little interest in Smith.
Two teams that seemed to be likely destinations for Smith have taken themselves out of the running since the weekend.
With former Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert struggling after two seasons, the Jaguars could probably use an upgrade at quarterback. But the Florida Times-Union reported Jacksonville general manager Dave Caldwell texted “not us” when asked on Sunday if the Jaguars were interested in Smith.
Similarly, a source told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the Browns, who last year drafted quarterback Brandon Weeden out of Oklahoma State, are not interested in Smith.
The 49ers’ top draft pick in 2005, Smith has thrown for 14,280 yards, 81 touchdowns and 63 interceptions in 80 games. He was lackluster during his first several years in the league but experienced a breakout season in 2011 under new head coach Jim Harbaugh.
His 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions in 2011 helped San Francisco reach the NFC championship game, which they lost to the New York Giants. Smith appeared en route to a repeat performance last season, when he got the 49ers off to a 6-2-1 start throwing 13 touchdowns and five interceptions while completing more than 70 percent of his passes.
But when he suffered a concussion in the 49ers’ 24-24 tie with St. Louis in November and second-year pro Colin Kaepernick shined in relief, Smith was never given a chance to unseat his one-time understudy. Instead, even once he regained his health, Smith watched from the sideline, effectively benched as Kaepernick guided the 49ers to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens.
Were the 49ers to keep Smith past April 1, they’d owe him a $7.5 million bonus — big money for a backup quarterback in the NFL.
Taken alone, none of these facts mean Smith will be quarterbacking the Chiefs next season. Put them together, however, and they’re a strong suggestion that he will.
To reach Adam Teicher, call 816-234-4875 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/adamteicher.