SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers looks to pass against the New York Giants during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
By now we've all been spoon-fed the idea that Alex Smith will definitely return to the 49ers as the starting quarterback in 2012 and it's no surprise why we've heard this. Smith has voiced his desire to return to the club, Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke have made it clear that they want him back, and "sources" say that an offer is on the table.
So maybe it's pointless to discuss this, but what if, just what if Alex Smith doesn't re-sign with the team and instead is lured away to a QB-desperate team by a big multi-year deal (a-la-Kevin Kolb)? It certainly wouldn't be the first time in the history of the NFL where a guy suddenly ended up somewhere other than where everyone expected.
Let's not talk about the probability of this happening. That's not what this post is for. Let's instead discuss what the plan would be at that point.
Does Colin Kaepernick enter the off-season as the favorite to be the starter? In that case does the team bring in a veteran backup type who would pose a challenge to Kaepernick but isn't a franchise-type QB?
Or does the entire draft and free-agency process change? I'd think that moving up in last year's draft to select Kaepernick indicates the team thought he was a viable option for the future of the position. However draft picks are just potential at the time. Sure, they want to get their money's worth from Kaep, but is he ready yet?
The team needs a QB who can build on last year. We all know the realities of the NFL. This current group is already likely losing players to free agency. Another year might see a much different group than those who went to the NFC Championship game.
So what would they do?