It is hard for Alex Smith not to be compared to Super Bowl champion Aaron Rodgers.
The San Francisco 49ers drafted Smith with the No. 1 overall pick in 2005 instead of taking Rodgers out of UC Berkeley. The Packers went on to select Rodgers with the 24th overall pick. Smith was widely considered the safer pick, but fast-forward seven years and Rodgers has a Super Bowl ring and is a bonafide elite quarterback in the NFL.
Smith, however, has had his ups and downs in his career. The most recent debacle—and there are many—was suffering a concussion in Week 8 against the Rams. It enabled backup Colin Kaepernick to fill in and eventually take the starting job from Smith. The decision to start Kaepernick over Smith was justified even further after the 49ers knocked off the New England Patriots on the road in sloppy conditions—with Kaepernick throwing for four touchdowns.
The quarterback controversy that was in San Francisco, and now is no more, seemed to take a toll on Rodgers, who has his Packers team vying for the No. 2 seed in the NFC against the now Kaepernick-led 49ers.
Rodgers went on NFL Total Access and seemed to vent his frustrations with the entire way Smith's injury was handled by Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers (via NFL.com):
"Alex and I are buddies, we both got drafted in 2005 NFL Draft, and he's been through a lot," Rodgers said in the 'NFL Total Access' interview." I can't imagine to have to go through that many offensive coordinators and the turnover in coaches has been tough for him.
"He comes in, he's 70 percent completion, he's 100-plus quarterback rating last year, he's like barely over one percent interception percentage," Rodgers went on. "He's a great quarterback, he just needs to go somewhere he gets appreciated for the skills he has and hopefully he gets a chance next year."
Credit Smith, who has handled his benching due to injury with absolute class since the news spread throughout the sports world. Smith has all the right to be frustrated, but has barely spoken a word about it.
However, it is pretty clear that Kaepernick is the present and future of the 49ers under center. Smith no longer has a place in San Francisco, and the only option would be for him and the 49ers to part ways after the season.
Smith and the 49ers agreed to a three-year deal worth roughly $8 million per year shortly after the Denver Broncos landed Peyton Manning. Smith likely wants to play for a team that will give him a chance to start, and the 49ers do not have an opening for a starting quarterback any longer.
That leaves the 49ers with two options: They can either trade or release him. Either way, it is likely Smith will not be in a 49ers uniform next season.
Smith still has a lot to offer. His last full game as a 49er came in a 24-3 beat-down of the Arizona Cardinals, where Smith was 18-of-19 for 232 yards and three touchdowns.
Smith will surely be coveted by NFL teams once the new league year begins on March 12, 2013, and the 49ers will be listening to any and all inquiries.
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