Alex Smith's 49ers Days Still Probably Numbered

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 12: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers runs with the ball against Dexter Davis #58 of the Seattle Seahawks during an NFL game at Candlestick Park on December 12, 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

    Watching Alex Smith's statistically best-ever win in a San Francisco 49ers uniform unfold during Sunday's 40-21 win at Candlestick, one couldn't help but wonder if the guy is finally figuring out how to effectively play quarterback in the NFL.

    "For the first time, at least since I’ve been here, (we) really let the game come to us," Smith told the San Jose Mercury News.

    Oh and by the way, Alex Smith's contract expires in three weeks. Smith is signed to the 49ers only through the end of the 2010 season, and is about to become an unrestricted free agent. Great timing, huh?

    Technically, the 49ers 2010 season could end up going another month and a half. Who knows? Maybe the 49ers will get hot, win the NFC West at 8-8 or 7-9, and win playoff games all the way to the Super Bowl on February 6, 2011, in Dallas.

    But the fact remains that Smith is signed only for the remainder of the 2010 season, following which the Niners have a decision to make on the identity of their starting quarterback.

    Should the 49ers part ways with Alex, even if he just won the division and took them to the playoffs?

    Would Smith even want to stay, considering the 49ers sliced his salary by two-thirds two years ago, and he'd be able to market himself as division-winning quarterback?

    Don't laugh at Smith's chances of making big money elsewhere on the basis of mediocre play. In the previous NFL off-season, even the miserable Jake Delhomme was handed $7 million per year, despite coming off an 18-interception season.

    Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who is confidently predicting a Patriots-49ers Super Bowl this season.