49ers undecided on Alex Smith
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 9:49 p.m.
Trent Baalke returned from the 49ers' Super Bowl loss to have “a great meal, a great discussion” with quarterback Alex Smith, all in an attempt to find a great resolution to Smith's fate.
“We'll look at all options available,” Baalke, the 49ers' general manager, told reporters Thursday at the NFL's scouting combine in Indianapolis. “Are we going to trade him for sure? No, that hasn't been decided.”
With Colin Kaepernick entrenched as the 49ers' starter entering his third season, Smith has become expendable, especially considering he'll make $8.5 million guaranteed this coming season if he's on the roster April 1.
“(We) have nothing but great respect for him, his family,” Baalke said. “We're certainly going to do everything in our power to make the best decision for everyone involved.”
The 49ers can't trade Smith until the new league year begins March 12. Conceivable partners for such a swap include the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals. Also worth considering are the Raiders and San Diego Chargers, merely based on Smith's likely desire to remain in-state.
Releasing Smith is an option, though perhaps a remote one. Smith, 28, helped guide the 49ers to the NFC championship game in the 2011 season, and he was enjoying a banner 2012 season before sustaining a concussion Nov. 11 against the St. Louis Rams.
Smith posted a 104.1 rating, which would have ranked third in the league if he had attempted six more passes. He completed 70.2 percent of his throws (153 of 218) for 1,737 yards, with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.
While pondering whether Smith should return for a ninth season with the 49ers, Baalke recently took Smith and his wife, Elizabeth, out to dinner.
“(It was) a chance to sit down with him and go through what our thoughts were, and go through what their thoughts were as a family, and really get an understanding of what direction we want to go,” Baalke said. “I can't say enough good things. If you ask anyone in the organization, they'll say the same thing: He is a pro's pro.”
These were Baalke's first comments since the 49ers' 34-31 Super Bowl defeat to the Baltimore Ravens on Feb. 3, and it was his first formal news conference in 10 months, since last April's draft. He rarely spoke with the media last season outside of his weekly radio show.
Baalke said the 49ers will look at “every position” in free agency and the draft to improve on last season's effort, which included a second straight NFC West title.
“Our guys are down a little bit, a little bit discouraged, a little bit disappointed,” Baalke said. “But we're certainly going to get back on the horse and ride. I have complete confidence in our players to do that.”
NO COMMITMENT TO MOSS
Randy Moss resurrected his career to reach the Super Bowl, but that hasn't ensured his return to the 49ers' roster. A pending free agent, Moss' work ethic, leadership and football intelligence were praised by Baalke, who added: “We're certainly happy that he was there. Is he going to return? I don't know that yet.”
Moss said before the Super Bowl he, too, was uncertain he'd come back to the 49ers, though he wants to play a 15th NFL season.
SIGNING GOLDSON 'A PRIORITY'
The 49ers are noncommittal on whether they'll place the franchise tag for a second straight year on safety Dashon Goldson, a pending free agent.
“We want to keep as many of our core guys together as we can,” Baalke said. “It's definitely a priority. Are we going to be able to do it? We don't know that. We're going to work awfully hard to make that happen.”
BREAKOUT YEAR FOR JENKINS?
The 49ers are expecting big strides this offseason from A.J. Jenkins, last year's first-round draft pick who had no receptions. Baalke expects Jenkins to soon start informal training in Atlanta with quarterback Kaepernick and fellow receivers Ricardo Lockette and Chad Hall.
“A.J.'s a young man that's worked awfully hard. He's going to continue to work hard,” Baalke said. “The biggest growth in players is always between Year 1 and Year 2, and we expect that's what's going to happen with A.J., just as we do with all of our young players.”
Defensive tackle Justin Smith faces a “short rehab” after undergoing surgery at Stanford Hospital for a torn left triceps tendon, Baalke told the Sacramento Bee.
Baalke called Tom Gamble's departure to the Eagles' front office “tough timing” but noted: “You've got to let people get home.”
Gamble's NFL roots trace back to Philadelphia. He worked for the 49ers the past eight seasons.
Coach Jim Harbaugh is scheduled to address the media at the combine today at 11:30 a.m. (PT).
Walt Easley, a member of the 49ers' first Super Bowl team in 1981, has died. Easley, who was 55, had been in declining health because of longstanding kidney problems.
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.