49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media Tuesday to provide a wrap on the season, and begin the look ahead to the 2013 season. He discussed a variety of topics, and it should surprise nobody that one such topic was quarterback Alex Smith.
Harbaugh said he was planning individual meetings with players, but he had not yet met with Smith. Harbaugh was asked if the team would release Smith if he asked for that so he could be a starter elsewhere.
"I don't think any player has those wishes granted, that under contract. And everything is different. Every scenario is unique and certainly something that we're not going to delve into and get into specifics at this point."
Matt Barrows brought up a good point that we've been discussing for a little while as well. The team does in fact want to try and get something in return for Smith if he does not return next year. All indications are that he will want to go somewhere else where he has a chance to start.
The 49ers could release him now, but naturally they will attempt to deal him first. There are a variety of possibilities out there, including the Chiefs, Jaguars, Jets, Cardinals and others. The Jets have a lot of money locked up in Sanchez, while the Cardinals are a division rival.
The question will be how each side of the trade equation values Smith. And that is why we can only take Jim Harbaugh's comments with so much of a grain of salt. He does not want to show signs of weakness that would help other teams in trade discussions. The team cannot officially trade him until March 12, when the new league year begins. And so, we wait to see how the market develops in the meantime.