49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media on Friday, and he had a chance to chat about a variety of mostly expected topics. He did go off the rails a bit with his Judge Judy comment, but otherwise, there was nothing particularly unexpected about his discussion.
Naturally, Harbaugh was asked about Alex Smith and his future. Harbaugh said the two most likely scenarios to play out were that Alex Smith would continue to remain a 49er or a trade occur in the coming weeks or months. Naturally, this has the Twitter-sphere ablaze with questions about Harbaugh specifically not including "release" as one of the likely scenarios with Alex Smith.
Let's put that to rest right away. The team is not going to acknowledge that they will specifically consider releasing Alex Smith. Trent Baalke said they would look at all options available, and I would bet money that is about as close as they will come to acknowledging release as an option. Harbaugh is playing word games with his comments because the 49ers need to maintain the illusion of leverage.
This ends up turning into a bit of a game of chicken. If you're the 49ers, you want to find a good deal, but you have this April 1 deadline when Smith's full salary
comes due becomes guaranteed for 2013. If you are a team looking for a new quarterback, do you pass on Matt Flynn and the poo poo platter of free agent options, hoping the 49ers end up releasing Smith? The upside to making a deal for Smith is getting him without having to compete against other teams if Smith hits the open market.