Smith is due $8.5 million next season, which the 49ers are not likely to pay him. He was benched and then replaced by the younger, more elusive Colin Kaepernick—and the team has not looked back.
Kaepernick has taken the 49ers just as far as Smith did a year ago, and he is not finished just yet.
Smith is still a starting-quality quarterback that could turn things around for a few quarterback-needy teams. Rather than look for a new quarterback in the upcoming draft, the following teams would be wise to take a chance on the veteran Smith, who is potentially going to be without a home soon.
The Cardinals were horrendous last year in terms of quarterback play thanks to the likes of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley. Arizona has a new head coach in Bruce Arians, and he is going to want a new franchise quarterback.
Smith fits the bill for Arians. He is a smart quarterback who completed 70 percent of his passes in 2012 as a starter. He will not turn the ball over often, and he will be able to make the most of weapons such as Larry Fitzgerald.
Arians may want to use the team's first-round pick on a quarterback, but picking up Smith would allow them to fill another position of need in a draft that doesn't feature a great quarterback class.
Head coach Rex Ryan may be hesitant to replace Sanchez, who is his franchise quarterback. However, he shouldn't stubbornly stick with Sanchez. Smith would be an instant upgrade over any quarterback currently on the roster.
Smith would not have much to work with in terms of weapons as of now, but that is something the team can further address in free agency and the draft. The team needs a quarterback who does not make mistakes and can keep the defense off the field.
Smith can be that quarterback.
Jacksonville may be content with giving Chad Henne another shot in 2013, as he showed flashes last season. Or, the organization may want to give Blaine Gabbert another chance to redeem himself.
Another option the front office has to be considering at this point is bringing in a veteran like Alex Smith.
Smith is not going to alter the franchise, but he will be competent enough to win games and allow the team to upgrade other positions in a big way, before returning and starting over at quarterback once more.
The team may be fine with Henne or Gabbert, but Smith is better than both by a wide margin.
Smith has options moving forward. He is only 28 years old, and he has more than proven his ability to take a team to the playoffs.
Where do you think Alex Smith lands in 2013?
The 49ers would be wise to shop him around on the chance a team wants to inherit his big contract. He is more than worth it for the three teams listed above.
Smith is a starting NFL quarterback, and there are more than a few teams in the NFL that need to upgrade the position in the big way. Smith will be a starter somewhere in 2013. If these organizations are smart, it will be with one of the three teams featured here.
Follow me on Twitter for more NFL news and analysis.