Alex Smith 'unlikely' to be cut by 49ers, coach says

It's hard to imagine Alex Smith being a member of the San Francisco 49ers next season. That said, Jim Harbaugh is doing his best not to show the team's hand.

The 49ers coach said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that the team is "unlikely" to release Smith, who lost his starting quarterback job to Colin Kaepernick this past season.

"(He's) an excellent football player," Harbaugh said at the combine, via The Plain Dealer. "He's really playing the best football of his career the last two years. We think we've got the best quarterback situation in the National Football League. (We) feel strongly about that.

"Again, that will be a process that plays out, I mean Alex Smith continuing to be a 49er, or if a trade occurs in the next weeks or months, those are the two most likely possibilities."

This is all strategy by Harbaugh, who knows Smith has very little trade value if teams know the 49ers' plan to release him. Smith very well could be released, but it won't be until the 49ers are convinced they can get nothing of value in a trade.

Considering the high number of QB-needy teams out there, expect a deal to eventually get done.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.