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Relegated 49ers QB Smith heading to Kansas City

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Alex Smith quietly stayed behind the scenes after losing his job and watched from the sideline as San Francisco returned to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years. Yet the No. 1 overall draft pick from 2005 did make one thing known: The veteran quarterback still considers himself a starter.

And he hoped to get that chance again. Now, he appears to have it.

The Kansas City Chiefs have agreed to acquire Smith from the 49ers in the first major acquisition since Andy Reid took over as the team's new coach in early January, a person with knowledge of the trade told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal cannot become official until March 12, when the NFL's new business year begins. Another person familiar with the swap said the 49ers will get a second-round pick in April's draft, No. 34 overall, and a conditional pick in the 2014 draft.

After spending his first eight up-and-down years with the 49ers, Smith will get a welcome new start. The Chiefs will get the proven play-caller they hope can help turn things around under a new coach much the way Smith did under Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco.

"You never know when your opportunity's going to come," Smith said late in the season. "The good ones are ready when they do come."

The Chiefs have gone this route before, acquiring Joe Montana from the 49ers nearly 20 years ago, in April 1993, after he won four Super Bowls but gave way to Steve Young -- San Francisco's quarterback of the future.

Not so different from Smith's situation last season behind second-year QB Colin Kaepernick.

Moving Smith was hardly unexpected. He realized it once Kaepernick emerged as a capable starter over the season's final two months, and Smith all but said goodbye with his first pro team when he played briefly in the regular-season finale against Arizona to cheers of "Let's Go, Alex!" and "Alex! Alex!" from the Candlestick Park crowd.

With Smith now headed for Kansas City, Matt Cassel is likely headed out of town. And Reid will enter his first draft as Chiefs coach in April no longer needing to search for a quarterback.

Inappropriate questions?

NEW YORK -- The NFL says it will look into whether questions asked of Colorado tight end Nick Kasa at the combine violated any laws or league policies banning employers from inquiring about a possible employee's sexual orientation.

Kasa told ESPN Radio in Denver that during interviews with team officials at the combine in Indianapolis: "(Teams) ask you, like, 'Do you have a girlfriend?' 'Are you married?' 'Do you like girls?"'

He did not identify who asked him such questions.

On Wednesday, Kasa said on the Dan Patrick Show he didn't think it "was really a serious question."

The NFL says it will look into Kasa's comments and that "any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline."

Chelsea's Benitez fed up

LONDON -- Worn down by constant criticism by fans, Rafael Benitez announced Wednesday he will leave as Chelsea's manager at the end of the season.

Benitez made his decision public during an extraordinary post-match outburst in which he also took aim at the Premier League club's hierarchy.

The Spanish coach spoke during the news conference after the Blues won 2-0 at Middlesbrough and advanced to an FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United, saying his position had been untenable since he was appointed "interim manager" in November.

"I will leave at the end of the season -- they don't need to waste time with me," said Benitez, referring to a section of fans who jeered him at Riverside Stadium.

Benitez was hired as the replacement for the fired Roberto di Matteo, and has never been accepted by a large section of Chelsea fans.

Ibrahimovic banned for 2

NYON, Switzerland -- UEFA banned Zlatan Ibrahimovic for two European matches on Wednesday, ruling the influential forward out of the Champions League quarter-finals, first leg if Paris Saint-Germain advances.

UEFA said its disciplinary panel extended an automatic one-match sanction for Ibrahimovic's challenge on Valencia midfielder Andres Guardado in stoppage-time of a last-16, first-leg match this month.

Ibrahimovic was shown a straight red card in stoppage-time in Spain, and was already certain to miss the return in Paris on March 6. PSG holds a 2-1 lead.

UEFA's additional punishment applies to the next European club competition for which Ibrahimovic is eligible.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 28, 2013 D6

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