By Eric Schmidt

The San Francisco 49ers flirted with a future Hall of Fame quarterback last week as they were in the chase for QB Peyton Manning. Ultimately, the 49ers missed out on Manning and in their actions, bruised the ego of one Alex Smith. Smith reportedly was looking to change agents on Saturday night, being represented by the same agent as Peyton Manning, Tom Condon. Alex Smith then embarked on a free agent interview tour, first heading to Miami. The job in Seattle was filled before Smith could arrive.

Damaged ego or not, Alex Smith should swallow his pride and return to the San Francisco 49ers, signing the offer which the franchise has reportedly made to him. Any leverage that Smith would hoped to have gained while in discussions with the Miami Dolphins is now greatly diminished after the Dolphins signed veteran David Garrard on Monday night. Even if Miami still makes an offer to Smith, a move which could be possible, does Smith really want to join that circus? A new head coach, another new system, a team in disarray?

Unfortunately for Smith, he has run out of options. Other than the 49ers, the only other team which seemingly has questions surrounding the quarterback position are the Cleveland Browns and they seem fairly content to stand pat with Colt McCoy, likely much to the chagrin of their fans.

Both sides in this mess appear to be out of options at this point. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and the front office rolled the dice on Peyton Manning, and lost. QB Alex Smith perhaps waited too long to test the waters of free agency and now has just one option remaining in order to be a starting quarterback in 2012, return to his former team.

It seems as if the two parties in this negotiation realize this and the ice is starting to thaw between them. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports that Harbaugh and Smith met for about an hour on Monday, likely to see if things can be patched up.

This wouldn’t be the first time in his career that Alex Smith has faced adversity while with the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers need an experienced starting quarterback and Smith needs a job, it seems like a perfect match.

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