San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke was the first person to take the podium and address reporters this morning at the NFL Scouting Combine here in Indianapolis.
And of course, one of the main topics of discussion was what his team will do with backup quarterback Alex Smith moving forward.
The University of Utah product was replaced by Colin Kaepernick midway through the season last year, but still has some value on the market via trade. Smith finished with a 104.1 passer rating in 2012 before he was replaced by Kaepernick.
Expect Seattle general manager John Schneider to keep a close eye on what’s happening in San Francisco, because the possibility of the 49ers moving Smith also affects the trade value of Seattle backup quarterback Matt Flynn.
“I was out to dinner with Liz and Alex when we got back from the Super Bowl,” Baalke said about Smith. “We had a great conversation, had a great dinner, and just a chance to sit down with him and go through what our thoughts were, and listen to what their thoughts were as a family. And really get an understanding of what direction we wanted to go.”
If the 49ers keep Smith beyond April 1, the team will have to pay his 2013 contract of $8.5 million.
“He is a pro’s pro,” Baalke said. “I have nothing but great respect for him and his family. And we’re certainly going to do everything in our power to make the best decision for everyone involved.”
“We’re going to look at all options available,” Baalke said, when asked about the possibility of trading Smith. “Are we going to trade him for sure? No, that hasn’t been decided.”
Baalke also talked about the increased competition in the NFC West, and how the 49ers will have their work cut out for them in defending the NFC West title, and ultimately getting back to the Super Bowl.
“We’re going to have to go back to work,” he said. “It’s an awfully good division, a competitive division. It’s a physical division. All four teams play a physical brand of football. They play very well on the defensive side of the ball.
“Offensively, there’s a lot of playmakers within the division. And it’s a well-coached division. In order to stay on top of that division, we’ve got to get better. We can’t stay the same, and we certainly can’t take a step back.”