The 49ers, having missed out on Peyton Manning, cannot plausibly go from an overtime defeat in the NFC Championship Game with Smith to a relative unknown behind center.
Smith vs. Signed NFC West QBs
Smith cannot plausibly leave the 49ers for a situation far less favorable to his career.
Which side has the most leverage? The 49ers have to know Smith will return at a semi-reasonable price before he'll settle for what could be a backup job for comparable money elsewhere.
Smith is running out of elsewheres, anyway.
I think that explains why team CEO Jed York has rather flatly stated that a contract offer remains on the table and the next move belongs to Smith. That strikes me as a rather arrogant view, but it also reflects the situation quite accurately. The 49ers can afford to wait when they know the likely outcome.
Players can't dive back into preparations for the upcoming season until mid-April, so it's not like the 49ers are losing ground.
Getting Smith back will give the 49ers their best shot at winning given the absence of a viable alternative.
The chart compares the numbers for Smith to those for signed NFC West quarterbacks since Week 13 of the 2010 season, when Smith returned to the starting lineup with a strong showing against Seattle. The 49ers could do a lot worse than Smith, in other words.
The other quarterbacks: Rich Bartel, Kevin Kolb and John Skelton of Arizona; Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien of San Francisco; Tarvaris Jackson, Josh Portis and Matt Flynn of Seattle; and Sam Bradford of St. Louis. Not all of them played in games during the period in question. Flynn played for Green Bay. Kolb played some of the games in question for Philadelphia.