Alex Smith gets ‘scoped

Quarterback Alex Smith, who is out for the season with his shoulder injury, underwent a “relatively minor procedure” late last week, a team spokesman said.

Smith was placed on injured reserve Sept. 10 due to a fracture of a small bone in his throwing shoulder. Although the injury was at first believed to be a non-contact injury, such an injury is considered rare.

Smith shoulder healed well enough that there was no need to insert a screw to promote the healing process. Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala., who performed the iniitial surgery in December to repair a separated shoulder, removed a small piece of bone fragment and wire sutures from the previous surgery. The arthroscopic procedure had been anticipated for several weeks.

This recent procedure will not impact Smith’s timetable for return. He should be available to throw passes during the offseason camps. But will it be with the 49ers?

When asked in early September — before Smith’s injury — if the 49ers could bring back Smith next season if he did not prove himself this year, GM Scot McCloughan said, “The amount of money we’re going to invest in him, he’d have to be proven that he is the guy – that when we get to the offseason, he’s our guy for next year.”

But after the season-ending injury, Smith asked then-coach Mike Nolan if he could remain with the team and attend all the QB meetings. Nolan said he could — showing an open mind on both sides to consider maintaining the union beyond this season.

Smith is scheduled to earn $9.625 million in base salary next season. If he returns, it would likely be for a minimum contract, plus incentives. If he’s on the team under his current deal, he would count $12.29 million against the 2009 cap. If the 49ers released him, he’d count $5.3 million.

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