Reading a headline with Alex Smith, 49ers and contract in it is never a good thing. When the headline is read in the month of April 2011, cringe is the least subtle word to describe the reaction when finishing up the article. According to the Sacramento Bee and San Francisco Chronicle before the NFL lockout began the 49ers offered Smith a one-year contract to stay in San Francisco. Smith reportedly declined the offer to test the free-agent market whenever it is the NFL lockout ends. It is no secret the 49ers need a quarterback. It is also no secret that Jim Harbaugh likes Smith and believes he can still be a good quarterback in the NFL. With Harbaugh’s experience not only playing quarterback in the NFL but also coaching players into becoming great quarterbacks I am almost hesitant to question Harbaugh’s thinking of Smith. Could Harbaugh be right about Smith?
That is when I cringe again; the thought of Smith returning to the 49ers for his third head coach and 89th offensive coordinator. I think we may have our first issue concerning Harbaugh: his over confidence. You want a coach to have confidence about his players and project that out to the fans and media. As much respect as I have for Harbaugh and him recognizing talent and maximizing it there is no way Smith is that diamond in the rough. Smith could very well be called a coach killer with two head coaches and numerous offensive coordinators losing their jobs with him under center. Does Harbaugh really want to put all his eggs in Smith’s basket even if it is just for one-year? I hope not.
Whoever comes in and plays quarterback for the 49ers they will have to learn a new system of offense and get to know the coaches. Smith is not the ideal candidate for this because all through his six years with the 49ers he has shown and said it takes time for him to learn a new offense and be successful in it. With Smith’s play serving as evidence how can the 49er Faithfull believe anything will be different even under Harbaugh? There are two problems here for the 49ers: First, Harbuagh has too much confidence in Smith. Second, even though it is only a one-year contract Smith will most likely sign with the 49ers because there will be no other teams that will want him as their starting quarterback. Smith will test free agency but will realize other teams want him as a backup, if at all. If the 49ers, Harbaugh and Smith were smart enough the relationship with Smith should have already ended.