With the NFL draft less than one week away the blogosphere is in full flurry discussing what teams needs are and how they will draft. On Wednesday I posted a poll asking: What is the best path for the 49ers at quarterback? 50% of the votes were for drafting a quarterback for the future and signing a veteran quarterback for the present. I agree with this however I think that veteran, and I am using this loosely to describe him, will be Alex Smith. It is no secret that Jim Harbaugh is very fond of Smith and with the news last week that the 49ers have a standing contract offer for Smith to return once the lockout ends, it is highly likely Smith will return.
After the season Smith had last year I did not think the 49ers would retain him. Smith has had numerous opportunities to prove he is not a bust but when he fails a new excuse is given. I jumped off the Smith bandwagon after last season ended and thought the 49ers had as well. Enter Harbaugh. It is hard to go against Harbaugh’s wisdom in saying that he can turn Smith around into the quarterback the 49ers thought he was in 2005. I am not the expert, Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke are. I do think Harbaugh can turn Smith around in some of his deficiencies but the two biggest, confidence and leadership cannot be turned around for Smith.
Smith will test the free agent market and realize his options are not great and take the offer from the 49ers. The 49ers will not select a quarterback with their first pick in the draft nor will they select one in the second round. In the first round the two hottest quarterbacks, Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert, will be gone before the 49ers pick at number seven. In the second round there are eight teams in front of the 49ers selecting that also need a quarterback before the 49ers select at the 13th spot in the second round. The 49ers will select a quarterback in the draft but that won’t be until at least the third round. Which means Harbaugh will have a project quarterback that will take years to develop. That is your quarterback of the future and Alex Smith is your veteran for the present.