Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/30/13

Alex Smith, the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback turned clipboard holder due to Colin Kaepernick’s stunning success, will reportedly request to be released before the start of free agency rather than wait to be traded, according to Pro Football Talk.It’s not surprising the 29-year-old former No. 1 draft pick wants to retake the wheel after losing his starting job due to injury.Smith has leverage with the organization because he handled his demotion like a champ. San Francisco’s incentive to let him walk rather than attempt a trade is the $1 million bonus owed Smith if he is still on the roster March 15th, three days after NFL free agency begins. Plus, his base pay for 2013, $7.5 million, will be guaranteed if he’s still with the team on April 1st.Although Smith has improved considerably under head coach Jim Harbaugh: QB rating: 72.1 (2005-10); 95.1 (2011-12) -- teams would rather acquire him via free agency on their own terms, then swallow Smith’s current $18.75 million cap hit over the next two seasons.Several of the teams on this list have recently overpaid for quarterback busts and their new regimes aren’t eager to repeat the mistakes of their predecessors.

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Sports & Politics Intersect: NFL and NIH collide over concussions

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