Now, San Francisco has to pick between trading Smith and his $8.5 million contract or releasing him. The quarterback would prefer the latter.
Smith will ask for his release before the start of free agency, March 12, according to Pro Football Talk. That would mean Smith would not receive the $8.5 million due to him in 2013, but he could pick the team of his choice.
Other than Joe Flacco, who is expected to be franchised or re-signed by the Ravens this offseason, Smith is the top free agent quarterback going into 2013. There are plenty of quarterback-needy teams, and the 2013 NFL draft doesn’t havea clear-cut No. 1 signal caller.
Smith was benched by the 49ers in favor of Kaepernick after Smith missed time with a concussion. Before that, though, Smith threw for 1,737 yards, 13 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 70.2 percent completion percentage. His yards per attempt, quarterback rating and completion percentage were all career highs.
Smith led the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game during the 2011 season. The 49ers fell to the New York Giants 20-17. Smith completed 12 of 26 attempts for 196 yards with two touchdowns in that game.
Smith’s career has been filled with ups and down since being drafted No. 1 overall by San Francisco in 2005. He had his best years under Jim Harbaugh the past two seasons.