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Niners have big decision to make on Alex Smith

Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) warm up before an NFL football game at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)


On Sunday, FOX’s Jay Glazer pointed out that the 49ers could part ways with quarterback Alex Smith, given that he has $8.5 million due in 2013.

We’ve gotten a look at the contract, and which lays out the specific formula andtimetable.

For starters, Smith has $1 million in fully-guaranteed salary for 2013. Another $1.5 million is guaranteed for injury only.

The full $7.5 million in base salary becomes fully guaranteed on April 1. Before that, however, a $1 million roster bonus becomes due on the third day of the 2013 league year.

Thus, barring a restructuring, the 49ers will have to decide whether to keep Smith by the third day of the league year, which will come at some point in early March.

Though he’s still the starter (according to coach Jim Harbaugh), Smith isn’t starting. Unless he’s the starting starter at the end of the season, the 49ers likely won’t pay that much to a non-starting starter in 2013.

Especially since the starting backup, Colin Kaepernick, will be earning only $590,000 next year, under a contract that can’t be renegotiated until 2014.