49ers

Why it makes sense for 49ers to trade Alex Smith

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Why it makes sense for 49ers to trade Alex Smith

There have been a couple times during Alex Smith's career that it was difficult to envision him returning to play the following season for the 49ers.

The first time was after the 2008 season. Smith experienced shoulder injuries that wiped out most of 2007 and all of 2008. However, Smith accepted a huge pay cut to remain with the 49ers in 2009.

The second time Smith appeared destined to leave the 49ers was following the 2010 season. He was clearly ready for a new chapter in his life. But, then, Jim Harbaugh came along and an agreement was reached. Both sides came to the conclusion that it made sense for Smith to remain with the 49ers on a one-year deal.

(Last offseason, there was always the sense Smith would return as a free agent even throughout the whole Peyton Manning saga.)

But now that Harbaugh has made the move to go with second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the 49ers' starter, it seems Smith is back in that old familiar position of uncertainty.

Smith signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the 49ers in the offseason. Because that contract is so reasonable, it gives the 49ers some options.

If Smith is on the 49ers' roster on April 1, 2013, his entire $7.5 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed.

Obviously, a $7.5 million salary for a backup quarterback does not seem realistic when the presumptive starter, Kaepernick, is scheduled to make $740,000 in base pay.

If the 49ers were to get rid of Smith's base salary, they could then use that money to tender safety Dashon Goldson at the franchise tag of $7.45 million.

Smith is the 20th-highest-paid quarterback in the league (see table below), which could make him an attractive option for some quarterback-needy team to acquire in a trade -- probably for a 2014 draft pick.

Smith is scheduled for a base salary of $7.5 million in both 2013 and 2014.

If the 49ers simply released Smith before April 1, they would still owe him $1 million. So it would help the 49ers on the salary cap, as well as enable the organization to accumulate a future draft pick, if they could get something for Smith via an offseason trade.

Here's how Smith's average salary per season ranks among other quarterbacks in the NFL (with years the deals span):

Average QB salaries per year
1. Drew Brees $20 million (2012-2016)
2. Peyton Manning $19.2 million (2012-'16)
3. Tom Brady $18 million (2010-'14)
4. Eli Manning $16.25 (2009-'15)
5. Michael Vick $16 million (2011-'16)
6. Matt Schaub $15.5 million (2012-'16)
7. Philip Rivers $15.3 million (2009-'15)
8. Jay Cutler $14.67 (2009-'13)
9. Ben Roethlisberger $14.67 million (2011-'15)
10. Mark Sanchez $13.49 (2012-'16)
11. Sam Bradford $13 million (2012-'15)
12. Aaron Rodgers $12.7 million (2008-'14)
13. Kevin Kolb $12.42 million (2011-'16)
14. Matthew Stafford $12.25 million (2012-'15)
15. Tony Romo $11.25 million (2011-'16)
16. Matt Ryan $11.25 million (2008-'13)
17. Carson Palmer $10.75 (2012-'16)
18. Ryan Fitzpatrick $9.83 million (2011-'17)
19. Matt Cassel $9.67 million (2009-'14)
20. Alex Smith $8 million (2012-'14)
21. Matt Hasselbeck $6.67 million (2011-'13)
22. Matt Flynn $6.5 million (2012-'14)
23. Andrew Luck $5.53 million (2012-2015)
24. Cam Newton $5.5 million (2011-'14)
25. Robert Griffin $5.28 million (2012-'15)
26. Josh Freeman $5.24 million (2009-'13)
27. Joe Flacco $4.76 million (2008-'12)

Also
45. Colin Kaepernick $1.28 million (2011-'14)

(NFL Players Association sources)

 

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

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AP

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

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USATSI

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.