Alex Smith: 'I have my best football ahead of me'
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NEW ORLEANS -- Quarterback Alex Smith finished six pass attempts shy of qualifying for the NFL crown for completion percentage.

There is little doubt that Colin Kaepernick's backup still views himself as a starting quarterback after completing 70.2 percent of his passes and compiling a 104.1 passer rating in his nine starts for the 49ers this season.

"I still feel I have my best football ahead of me," Smith said Tuesday during "Media Day" at the Superdome, site of Super Bowl XLVII.

"In that sense, I feel like I've gotten better and better. I feel like I'm capable of playing at a high level. So, yeah, I'm excited for my next opportunity, wherever that comes."

With a scheduled $8.5 million salary, it seems unlikely Smith will return to the 49ers for the 2013 season. The 49ers have 49 players under contract for next season, including Smith, and they're already bumped up against the projected $121 million cap.

On Monday, a source told Pro Football Talk that Smith is "expected to seek his release before the start of free agency."

[RATTO: Another gut-punch coming for Alex Smith?]

Said Smith, "I have no idea where that came from."

Obviously, Smith's agent, Tom Condon, would like his client to be free to find a suitor on the open market. Smith said his immediate focus is on getting prepared to play, if needed, on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

"I want to win on Sunday," Smith said. "I want a ring. After Sunday there will be enormous amounts of time to talk or think about that stuff. For me, it's about staying focused and being ready."

Smith said it is not difficult for him to enjoy the experience of being on a Super Bowl team because it's now been two months since coach Jim Harbaugh decided to stick with Kaepernick, who received his chance when Smith exited the lineup with a concussion.

"I don't have any regrets," Smith said. "I wouldn't change anything. I'm just continuing to try to get better and be the best quarterback I can. I felt like I was playing good ball. Coach made the decision. He gets paid to make those decisions. I play football. For me, no regrets.

"We're in the Super Bowl. We're a little removed now from when the switch was made, so I'm not thinking about that stuff. For me getting ready to go."