Now that Super Bowl XLVII is over, a major question for the San Francisco 49ers is what they will do with backup QB Alex Smith. Smith, the 2005 No. 1 Draft Pick, started the season as the 49ers starter but suffered a concussion in Week 9 against the Saint Louis Rams and never got the starting nod back as Colin Kaepernick took over under center. Smith, despite tossing 13 touchdowns on just five interceptions and recording a 79.1 Quarterback Rating, was benched in favor of the second-year player out of Nevada, Kaepernick, who shined in his first start on Monday Night Football throwing for 243 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in a win versus the Chicago Bears.
Sources say that the 49ers will try to trade Smith, rather than release the QB, given the high demand for him in an off-season where there are not many quarterbacks available via the draft or free agency. Another factor to consider why the 49ers will likely trade Smith is if San Francisco deals Smith instead of cutting him, it would save the $1 million or $2 million roster bonus it would have to pay if he is released.
This then begs the question: will the Cleveland Browns try to trade for Alex Smith? New Browns owner Jimmy Haslem has made it clear that Brandon Weeden will have to earn the starting job this season and new head coach Rob Chudzinski recently said it was “premature” to call Weeden the starter. Not to mention, the management personnel that drafted Weeden with the No. 22 overall pick is no longer working for the Browns so Weeden’s job status could very well be up in the air. Given that Weeden threw more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (14) last season, it might not be a bad idea to think about adding another quarterback to the roster.
The Browns are a leading candidate to acquire Alex Smith because new offensive coordinator Norv Turner helped develop Smith in San Francisco in 2006. Turner was the offensive coordinator in 2006 when Smith became the full time starter for the 49ers. Smith threw 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions that season. The year before Turner arrived, however, Smith was abysmal, tossing one mere touchdown pass while firing 11 interceptions. Therefore, Smith credits Turner for helping getting his career on track as he loved working for him.
“Loved my time with Norv,” said Smith. “It was a very, very friendly QB system. For [Cleveland], it’s going to be a terminology change going from a West Coast system to the digits, but very, very QB friendly, big-play potential for the offense with a lot of chunk plays.”
“He’s a great play caller. I just remember he had a great feel for the game on game day and a great feel for what the defense was doing.”
Alex Smith has made it clear he would welcome a reunion with Turner in Cleveland. Still, several other teams will likely try to acquire Smith such as the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals. The Browns should definitely consider trading for Smith if they believe he is a better fit to run their new offense than current QB Brandon Weeden.