Friday, February 22, 2013

Alex Smith: Reading Between the Lines

By: Brian Sanchez
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Since the NFL Combine started, Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke have had to talk to the national media for the first time since the Super Bowl. The bulk of the conversations (or lectures in Harbaugh's case) have been about Alex Smith and what the 49ers plan to do with him. The 49ers coach and GM have come out with the clear agenda of letting everybody know that they are comfortable keeping Alex Smith. Do I believe them? Not for a second.
Nobody has supported Alex Smith as much as Jim Harbaugh
    I have watched enough episode of Pawn Stars to understand the idea of negotiation leverage. The 49ers are making sure they are controlling and setting the market for Alex Smith. The 49ers should not keep Alex Smith this season because he would cost them $9.5 million. That is a lot of money to put in to a back-up for a team trying to find money to keep their All-Pro Safety and keep TE Delanie Walker around. The rest of the league knows that too, so they are willing to wait until March, when Smith's contract becomes guaranteed, as they expect Smith to be released and then he can go anywhere he wants. If that were the case, the 49ers would have little to no negotiating power. They would be asking for a 5th, 6th, maybe even a 7th round pick, just to get something in return. So, why would other teams trade for Alex Smith if it would be ludicrous for them to do anything else but cut him? Because Jim Harbaugh is that crazy guy who just might do it.
49ers GM Trent Baalke
     I would give it a very slight chance, but if there was any coach willing to keep a back up QB for $9.5 million it would be Jim Harbaugh. And that is precisely why Alex Smith will get traded. Other teams know it would be crazy to keep Alex Smith this season. Those same teams also know that Jim Harbaugh is absolutely that crazy. So just Jim Harbaugh's personality alone sets up a sellers market.
     What should ease the minds of 49er fans everywhere is the fact that GM Trent Baalke is a little more sane and incredibly smart. He understands the important of depth and has shown a tremendous ability to build a roster. He knows that he can't lose a guy like Dashon Goldson in favor of a back-up QB. He is also smart enough to try and pit organizations against each other. He can tell teams like the Browns, Jaguars, Cardinals, and Chiefs that they don't have to wait and try to win Alex Smith in free agency, they can have him right now if they trade. Then, once he gets one offer he can orchestrate the auction and come out a winner.

Bonus: What do I expect to receive for Alex Smith? Ideally, a player who can play now. I'm not sure exactly who Baalke would target from each team, but they would do more than a pick. Now, if they were to receive picks I would imagine they would be conditional picks for 2014. This year the 49ers have the most picks in the draft and they don't have that many roster spots open. The conditions of the pick could depend upon wins or completions.

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1 comment:

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