Former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is expected to soon hit the free-agent market.
Washington reportedly will release Smith “in the coming days,” NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported on Monday.
The move to cut ties with Smith will save Washington $13.8 million on the salary cap.
Meanwhile, the 49ers are expected to be in the market for a veteran backup quarterback this offseason. General manager John Lynch said last week on the “Eye Test for Two” podcast that the 49ers “have to have better options” behind starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
There is no immediate indication the 49ers would be interested in adding Smith.
Smith is a selfless professional, who could serve as a strong supporting role for Garoppolo. But the 49ers could be concerned about Smith's durability at this stage in his career. He exited Washington's Week 14 game against the 49ers with a calf strain and was later unavailable for the team's playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard served as the 49ers’ backups over the past three seasons behind Garoppolo, who missed 23 games due to injuries during that time.
Mullens is in the midst of an expected six-month rehab after elbow surgery. He is scheduled to be a restricted free agent. Beathard is scheduled for unrestricted free agency.
Currently, the 49ers have reserve quarterbacks Josh Rosen and Josh Johnson on the roster. Neither Rosen nor Johnson is assured of a spot on the team’s regular-season roster.
Smith, who turns 37 in May, was the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year. He made it all the way back from a severe leg fracture and infection that turned into a life-threatening situation.
Smith, a three-time Pro Bowl player, spent his first eight year with the 49ers after being selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft.
He re-signed with the 49ers in 2011 and 2012, and was off to a career-year when coach Jim Harbaugh opted to replace him permanently with Colin Kaepernick after Smith left the lineup due to a concussion.
The 49ers traded Smith to Kansas City in 2013. After five seasons with the Chiefs, he was traded to Washington as Andy Reid made the call to go with Patrick Mahomes as the starter.
After missing the entire 2019 season, Smith appeared in eight games last year with six starts. He completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 1,582 yards with six touchdowns and eight interceptions. Washington went 5-1 in the games Smith started.