Miami visit? Now we're talking, Alex Smith

Alex Smith repeatedly set aside his pride during seven seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.

It's good to see him make an exception when warranted.

Smith's free-agent visit to the Miami Dolphins might look like an attempt by that organization to further suppress the price for another free-agent quarterback, Matt Flynn.

But let's face it, Flynn was already languishing on the discount rack. Green Bay thought better of naming him its franchise player. Seattle, though interested, did not make Flynn an offer during his recent visit to the team's headquarters. And if the Seahawks do make an offer, they likely will not value him appreciably more than they valued Tarvaris Jackson, who signed for $4 million a year.

From Smith's perspective, a visit to the Dolphins -- or any team -- was exactly what he needed after the 49ers entered the chase for Peyton Manning.

San Francisco remains the best fit for Smith. But if the 49ers do land Manning, Smith will have to find a job elsewhere. There's nothing wrong with the 49ers looking out for their own interests by considering an obvious upgrade at quarterback. There's likewise nothing wrong with Smith looking out for his interests as well.

Smith swallowed his pride last offseason when he returned to the 49ers following a brutal six-year run with the team. He previously said and did all the right things through multiple coaching changes and organizational miscues. He did stand up to then-coach Mike Nolan when Nolan publicly questioned his toughness, one of the few times Smith has stood up for himself. That was absolutely warranted.

The circumstances are warranted this time as well. Even if Manning opts for Tennessee instead of the 49ers, can Smith be certain San Francisco would take him back over, say, a newly available Matt Hasselbeck? To what extent does Smith still trust his longtime agent, Tom Condon, and his latest coach, Jim Harbaugh? We do not yet have answers to these questions. Does Smith?

Condon has also represented Manning, an obvious conflict of interest. And Harbaugh, for all the public support he has offered Smith, must put the 49ers' interests over Smith's interests. Because in the end, football is a business, even for a team that went out of its way to promote itself as one big family.