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Alex Smith's time with San Francisco 49ers nears end

Alex Smith knows he is entering his final days as a San Francisco 49er.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Smith will not be a member of the team next year. The 49ers will try to trade him, but they will cut him early out of respect to Smith if nothing happens quickly.

The news of Smith's eventual departure is not a huge shock, but it's very notable that the team would be amenable to possibly cutting Smith. Rapoport notes that the 49ers have a strong relationship with Smith and his agent, Tom Condon. They believe he's earned the right to pick a team and be treated right.

So what teams are interested in Alex Smith?

So far: The Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. The New York Jets have not shown interest yet. (Of course, any official contact would be against league rules at this stage.)

Rapoport reports that teams have noticed how Smith has handled this situation. Interested organizations don't view Smith as a long-term starter necessarily, but as a bridge quarterback. Teams know that if they draft a rookie, Smith will handle the situation well. Smith's experience running the spread in college could be attractive to a team like the Eagles.

In the end, Smith should not lack for options. He and Michael Vick will be the most attractive veteran options available (should Vick be released), and the weak quarterback draft class should make Smith even more attractive. It sounds like Smith might wind up getting to choose where he goes, rather than the 49ers choosing for him.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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