Alex Smith likely to stay with 49ers, Jim Harbaugh suggests

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Smith will stay with the San Francisco 49ers next season, if Jim Harbaugh has his way.

There has been a lot of talk about what the San Francisco 49ers will do with Alex Smith. The quarterback was demoted behind Colin Kaepernick after the midway points of the 2012 season. Discussion has revolved around whether the Niners will try to trade him or simply release him from his contract altogether, but few have suggested that the team actually retain him. Head coach Jim Harbaugh, however, indicated he is very open to the idea.

For more, visit Niners Nation

"I have great respect for Alex," Harbaugh said. "Great personal friendship, togetherness with Alex. The team, we feel great about our quarterback situation. You can't enough good quarterbacks."

Smith is due $8.5 million next season, $7.5 million of which becomes guaranteed after April 1. He would certainly be among the highest paid backup quarterbacks in the league. Kaepernick can make up to $1.3 million in 2013, which will be the third year of his four-year rookie contract.

As a gesture of good will towards Smith, the Niners may ultimately opt to release him from his contract. He was playing exceptionally well before suffering a concussion and falling behind Kaepernick on the depth chart. In 10 games played, he completed 70.2 percent of his passes for a 104.1 passer rating that would have finished third in the NFL this season. Suffice it to say, Smith would be a hot commodity as a free agent.

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