Niners pursuing options on Smith

Trent Baalke returned from the 49ers' Super Bowl loss to have "a great meal, a great discussion" with quarterback Alex Smith, all in an attempt to find a great resolution for Smith's fate.

"We'll look at all options available," Baalke, the 49ers' general manager, told reporters Thursday at the NFL's scouting combine in Indianapolis. "Are we going to trade him for sure? No, that hasn't been decided."

With Colin Kaepernick entrenched as the 49ers' starter entering his third season, Smith has become expendable, especially considering he'll make $8.5 million guaranteed this coming season if he's on the roster April 1.

"(We) have nothing but great respect for him, his family," Baalke said. "We're certainly going to do everything in our power to make the best decision for everyone involved."

The 49ers can't trade Smith until the new league year begins March 12. Conceivable partners for such a swap could be the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals. Also worth considering are the Raiders and San Diego Chargers, merely based on Smith's likely desire to remain in-state.

Releasing Smith is an option, though perhaps a remote one. Smith, 28, helped guide the 49ers to the NFC Championship game in the 2011 season, and he was enjoying a banner season before sustaining a concussion Nov. 11 against the St. Louis Rams.

Smith posted a 104.1 rating that would have ranked third in the league if he had attempted six more passes. He completed 70.2 percent of his throws (153 of 218) for 1,737 yards, with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.

While pondering whether Smith should return for a ninth season with the 49ers, Baalke recently took Smith and his wife, Elizabeth, out to dinner.

"(It was) a chance to sit down with him and go through what our thoughts were, and go through what their thoughts were as a family, and really get an understanding of what direction we want to go," Baalke said. "I can't say enough good things. If you ask anyone in the organization, they'll say the same thing: He is a pro's pro."

These were Baalke's first comments since the 49ers' 34-31, Super Bowl defeat to the Baltimore Ravens on Feb. 3, and it was his first formal news conference in 10 months, since last April's draft. He rarely spoke with the media last season outside of his weekly radio show.

Baalke said the 49ers will look at "every position" in free agency and the draft to improve on last season's effort.

"Our guys are down a little bit, a little bit discouraged, a little bit disappointed," Baalke said. "But we're certainly going to get back on the horse and ride. I have complete confidence in our players to do that."


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