The options for quarterback Alex Smith

Alex Smith had reason to leave the San Francisco 49ers following the 2010 season. The 49ers likewise had reason to move in another direction at the position.

SmithSmithTheir mutual decision to continue the relationship worked out well for all parties. But with the 49ers showing interest in Peyton Manning this offseason, Smith needs to more strongly consider other options in free agency.

That likely explains why Smith is considering an agent change, according to Kevin Lynch. Tom Condon has been representing Manning and Smith for years. He cannot plausibly pursue the best interests of both players if those interests are in direct conflict with one another. Manning would presumably be the top priority for any agent.

Finding a new agent could also be tricky. Condon and David Dunn have dominated the agent business when it comes to representing prominent quarterbacks. Dunn would normally stand out as a leading alternative to Condon, but he has represented 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke.

No matter which direction Smith goes on the agent front, staying in San Francisco represents the best career move for him.

Smith went 13-3 as the 49ers' starter last season, won a playoff game, knows the offense, fits with the coaching staff and has earned the respect of teammates. But if the 49ers are going to consider other options, why shouldn't Smith do the same?

The answer depends to some degree on if Smith feels comfortable with what the 49ers have told him privately. Does he still trust them?

If not, a free-agent trip to, say, Seattle would get the 49ers' attention. How would the 49ers respond if Smith appeared close to signing elsewhere? Would they continue to wait on Manning if they weren't sure about getting him?