Alex Smith has 7.5 million reasons to believe he won't be with the San Francisco 49ers next season, but the No. 1 overall selection of the 2005 NFL Draft has never been more in demand.
Supplanted as the 49ers starting quarterback in November by multi-talented backup Colin Kaepernick, Smith, 28, figures to be the most sought-after veteran quarterback this offseason. He helped carry the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game in 2011, and got them off to a good start this season before a concussion felled him briefly.
By dutifully following the letter of the NFL's concussion protocol -- sit, wait for a doctor's clearance -- Smith should have received the customary fruit basket welcoming his return to the starting job. But 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh went rogue by traditional NFL standards, and stuck with who he believed was the best available QB for his team. By Week 13, that happened to be Kaepernick.
Lugging around a $7.5 million guaranteed salary for 2013, Smith was the most expensive -...