Smith Unlikely To Return to 49ers, Rice Likes that Ravens Are The Underdogs

No surprise here, but San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is unlikely to return to the team next season and no, he still doesn’t like talking about the turn his season took after his concussion.

At Wednesday’s Super Bowl media days, Smith had again been asked about his benching and said via NFL.com, “I mean, it’s difficult in the sense I get asked about it a lot. Other than that, I mean it’s the Super Bowl, so it demands the respect. It demands your attention and focus and it’s the biggest game for all of us here.”

Smith hasn’t been the team’s starting quarterback since November and said acting as Colin Kapernick’s starting quarterback is like beginning a new job. It isn’t exactly one that he sought out.

The player added, “You go from taking all the reps in practice, being the starter, playing on game day, to a different role. You’re not getting the reps in practice, you’re doing the scout team. Still, you have to prepare. You don’t know when you’re going to get a chance to go back in. I’m just trying to stay ready.”

According to NFL.com, the 49ers will try to trade Smith but if nothing happens, they’ll try to cut him sooner than later.

So who is likely to be interested? This includes the Arizona Cardinals, the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles. Smith’s 2013 salary is $8.5 million.

Keep in mind, prior to his Nov. 11 injury in St. Louis Rams game, Smith had been the NFL’s top-rated quarterback with his 70 percent pass completion rate and 13 touchdowns. He has handled the benching with a lot of poise and along with Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, Smith, he is viewed as a top veteran candidate in the offseason.

With the line holding steady at -3.5 for the 49ers as well as all the media chatter, the Ravens are Sunday’s underdog but their running back Ray Rice is fine with this. Really, it’s been happening all through the postseason.

He said on Wednesday via NFL.com, “People say maybe against the Broncos, people call it whatever you want, without the pass, we’d lose the game, but we went up there and dominated New England. No one is talking about how the Ravens dominated New England. We outscored them 21-0 in the second half.

“That was the way to get into the championship because we didn’t want that feeling of them getting close to coming back. That was the only way to get over what happened last year.”

As noted by NFL.com, the Patriots led the league in scoring this season by a big margin including five games with 40-plus points. In the Ravens game, they were completely shut down during the second half.

Rice added, “Being the underdog just feels like you have something to prove. If you always put yourself at the top, the only way you can go is down. Being the underdog, you have to climb and get to the top, and the only way you can get to the top is winning the Super Bowl.”

Debbie Baratz

Deb has been writing about the NFL and NCAA football for the last few years. She is a full-time writer and an avid sports fan. Follow her on twitter @ldbar.

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