It’s clear that Smith doesn’t have as much potential as Kaepernick, so it’s unrealistic to expect him to take the starting job back from the second-year pro. If Kaepernick struggles down the stretch then Jim Harbaugh might give Smith another chance this season, but it’s highly unlikely that Smith is still in San Francisco’s long-term plans.
However, he’s too good to stay with the 49ers to just be Kaepernick’s backup. At the age of 28, he’s in the prime of his career.
Certainly, he has benefited from having one of the best defenses in the NFL on his side—if not the best—as well as one of the top running games, and that’s something NFL executives will keep in mind. But he’s thrown 30 TD passes compared to just 10 interceptions in the past two seasons and he beat Drew Brees in a shootout to get the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game in last year’s playoffs.
Obviously, there are a lot of teams that are struggling at quarterback and would love to make Smith their QB1. However, since he signed a three-year deal with San Francisco this past May, whichever team(s) want him will have to trade for him.
The question is: Which team would be the best fit for Smith?
The number of GMs who have already started thinking about Alex Smith wearing their team’s jersey has probably already reached double digits. The Kansas City Chiefs would be one of the teams at the top of the list if they weren’t slated to end up with the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but here are seven teams that should seriously consider sending San Francisco a trade offer for one of the top game managers in the NFL.
7. New York Jets
The probability of the Jets trading for Alex Smith isn’t high, but New York has proven it is willing to do anything to steal attention away from the Giants, especially recently, so you can’t count them out of the Smith Sweepstakes.
Chances are that Woody Johnson and the New York Jets are going to be quite busy this offseason. The organization will have to decide whether or not to keep Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum, whose seats couldn’t be any hotter, and what they should do at the QB position.
They don’t seem to care too much for Tim Tebow since he has barely played while Mark Sanchez has been one the worst quarterbacks in the league this season—he’s ranked 32nd in QBR and has completed only 55.4 percent of his passes whereas Alex Smith leads the NFL in completion percentage this season at 70.0 percent.
The problem is that the Jets gave Sanchez a three-year contract extension this past March, so he’s signed through the 2016 season.
For that reason, the Jets probably won’t reach out to San Francisco for Smith, but if they were to pull off a trade then Jets fans would surely be at least somewhat excited to have a starting QB who can actually throw the ball accurately.