Alex Smith took a blindside hit, got a bit woozy and headed for the sideline, not quite sure of his bearings for a while.
Now, it’s time for Smith to shake it off and get back on the field.
Understandably, Smith was rocked last week when the 49ers joined the Peyton Manning circus.
Suddenly, his future was fuzzy.
The Niners reportedly had offered Smith a three-year deal to return to a team he had led to the NFC Conference Championship Game in January, and all signs pointed to the unrestricted free agent returning for 2012.
But once the 49ers showed their play for Manning, Smith started looking elsewhere, even flying to Miami this past weekend to talk to the Dolphins.
But now that Manning has decided to sign with the Denver Broncos, it’s time for Smith to regroup, dust off the feelings of rejection and re-sign with the 49ers.
Really, it’s his only option.
The Dolphins on Monday signed free-agent quarterback David Garrard, the former Jacksonville starter who sat out last season after being cut just before the opening game. They already have incumbent starter Matt Moore. Seattle, seemingly another option for Smith, recently signed free-agent Matt Flynn, the former Aaron Rodgers’ understudy in Green Bay.
Neither of those teams has the talent or the chance to win the way San Francisco does in 2012.
Time for Alex to regroup and re-sign.
Niners owner Jed York told reporters Monday that the team’s offer – believed to be for three years – is still viable.
“We have an offer on the table, and it’s up to him,” York told columnist Mark Purdy of the Bay Area News Group. “We’d like him here, and we’ll see where it goes.”
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reported coach Jim Harbaugh and Smith were believed to have met Monday. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reported the two met for about an hour. The two have formed a close relationship in the last 18 months, so perhaps they can smooth this all over.
As Maiocco also noted, it’s possible that Smith’s anger – if he has any over the Manning episode – might be directed more at General Manager Trent Baalke than Harbaugh if he believes it was Baalke who instigated the pursuit of Manning. Wrote Maiocco: “Harbaugh and Smith built a nice rapport over the past 14 months. That might not change, as long as he remains the good cop to Baalke’s bad cop.”
Purdy notes that Smith is smart enough to know the 49ers remain his best bet. They wanted him before, and they still want him – just at their price and at three years, no longer. Perhaps, he says, the Niners could sweeten the deal just a tad and make everyone happy.
“Any doubts could be smoothed with a few more dollars,” he writes. “If Smith’s guaranteed money jumps from the reported $10 million (of a reported $24 million total) to $12 million or $14 million, why wouldn’t he sign? Smith is a California guy. He grew up in San Diego. He has started to grow a nice family in Los Gatos.”
Columnist Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle says if Smith is “as smart as he seems,” he’ll realize there’s only one true option for him: the 49ers.
In his seven NFL seasons, she notes, he’s seen how the business side of the NFL can be harsh. He’s seen it all – been booed and criticized in his own city – yet thrived in 2011.
“Alex Smith’s hide should be thick enough to help him recover from the 49ers’ harsh reminder that he is not Peyton Manning,” she writes.
Time to shake it off, Alex.