Quarterback Alex Smith and the 49ers are still working on a deal to keep him in San Francisco. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
If Alex Smith wants to remain a 49er, and the team has consistently said it wants its quarterback to return, what’s the holdup?
After all, head coach Jim Harbaugh last month reiterated the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent “is our guy” and “we’re all in lockstep as an organization” to retain Smith, who had his finest season in 2011.
The NFL Network has reported the Niners have had an offer in Smith’s hands for quite some time.
The sticking point, apparently, reports Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, who cites sources, is the length of the deal the Niners have offered.
Barrows reports the 49ers have proposed a three-year deal for Smith, while Smith’s agent, Tom Condon, is believed to be asking for five years. Also, there is reportedly still a gap between the two sides in the amount of guaranteed money Smith would receive.
With the free agency period kicking off this Tuesday, there is now some urgency to get the deal done. Barrows reports there will be “some sort of compromise from both sides.”
Should Smith hit the open market as a free agent, he may find that no other teams will be ready to offer as good a deal. But that would be a gamble. As Barrows notes, the Seahawks have a shaky quarterback situation and have former 49ers GM Scot McCloughan – who drafted Smith in 2005 – as senior personnel executive. Would Seattle go after Smith?
That likely will be a moot point, with Smith and the 49ers expected to reach some kind of agreement before Tuesday.
Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, however, finds it interesting that the Niners have offered several longer deals to players recently – linebacker Ahmad Brooks and defensive linemen Ray McDonald and Isaac Sopoaga, for instance – but apparently are unwilling to offer a longer deal to Smith.
Smith, 27, last season signed a one-year deal to remain with the 49ers in Harbaugh’s first season as coach, and led the team to a 13-3 regular-season record, an NFC West title and rallied the team to a comeback victory over the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
He wants to stay a Niner, and the 49ers – who say they’re not interested in free agent Peyton Manning – are committed to Smith.
Everything points to this deal getting done before the free-agent deadline – but it still may take a few more days.