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Hoping for leverage, Alex Smith visits Dolphins

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Alex Smith and Jim Harbaugh in 2011. (Getty Images)

Another free-agent quarterback will be spending time in Miami on Sunday, and his name isn't Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn. As ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith has apparently tired of the wait for his own new contract with the team and for the 49ers' recent dalliances with Peyton Manning to reach a resolution. Smith, who is represented by agent Tom Condon of CAA (Manning's agent as well)  had been talking with 49ers officials about a new contract, but no agreement has been reached.

That factor -- and certainly others -- turned the 49ers in the direction of Manning, who threw for the Denver Broncos on Friday and the Tennessee Titans on Saturday in controlled workouts. By all accounts, both throwing sessions went extremely well, and the word is that all three teams in the hunt for Manning are prepared to drop a deal somewhere in the neighborhood of five years and $90 million, with a heavily front-loaded guarantee.

Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel quoted colleague Izzy Gould, who got a quick interview with Smith when he landed in Miami. "This is the NFL -- I guess nothing surprises me anymore," Smith said. "I never thought a year ago [Peyton] Manning would be a free agent either. I'm never surprised by anything."

The Dolphins hoped to be serious suitors for Manning's services, but he turned them down after hearing their pitch. Miami then turned to former Green Bay Packers backup Matt Flynn, and were talking terms with Flynn on Saturday. Smith's visit could be a leverage ploy by Condon, or it could be a legitimate statement by Smith that he's waited long enough, or both. If Smith does sign with the Dolphins, he'd be playing once again with a high school teammate -- he and running back Reggie Bush both went to Helix Charter High in La Mesa, Calif.

Selected with the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, Smith had been a bust for years until Jim Harbaugh became San Francisco's head coach in 2011. Harbaugh wanted to see what he had in Smith, and drove Smith to an extremely efficient season -- Smith threw just five interceptions in 445 attempts.

While Smith isn't spectacular by any means, the 49ers need to be careful. There's a scenario, however unlikely, in which they could lose both Manning and Smith to other teams, leaving second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick to lead a team now expected to do great things.

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