According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is expected to ask for a release sometime after the Super Bowl before the free agency period starts.
The 49ers could try and trade Smith, although his $8.5 million in total compensation could be a deterrent to some teams unwilling to take the cap hit. A release would mean Smith would forgo the $8.5 million, but be free to sign with any team he wants and possibly negotiate a more long-term deal.
According to Yahoo! Sports, "Smith received a $3 million roster bonus on March 26, 2012 — $1 million of which was deferred until March 15, 2013 — and his $5 million base salary in 2012 was fully guaranteed. Smith is due to earn $7.5 million in base salary in 2013, with $1 million already fully guaranteed. If Smith is on the 49ers' roster on April 1, the remaining $6.5 million will become fully guaranteed."
Smith, who was the first overall pick in the 2005 draft, was having the best season of his career before suffering a concussion on Nov. 11, completing more than 70 percent of 218 pass attempts for 1,737 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.
After Smith was cleared to play, coach Jim Harbaugh elected to keep Colin Kaepernick as the starter instead of reinstating Smith. Kaepernick finished out the season and has led the 49ers on an impressive playoff run and into the Super Bowl, where they are favored over the Baltimore Ravens.
Kaepernick, who played college ball in Nevada, has inspired Las Vegas casinos to release a number of proposition bets regarding his performance in Sunday's game, including 5 to 1 odds that Smith will take at lease one snap from center during the big game.
Smith, who wandered the field during Super Bowl media day because he wasn't given a podium, was asked to comment about the 49ers quarterback situation.
"I really felt like I was playing my best football right before the injury. So it's been tough. But you deal with it and move on," he said. "This is a team game."