49ers Stuck With Alex Smith While Cardinals Pursue Kevin Kolb

Since the end of the 2010 season speculation has been building as to which team Eagles backup quarterback Kevin Kolb will be traded to.  With the reemergence of Michael Vick for the Eagles the team has the luxury of shopping Kolb around to get the best deal possible in a trade.  Reports had multiple teams interested in Kolb but the NFL lockout put the trade on hold.  Without the NFL lockout Kolb would have likely been traded either right before or during the 2011 NFL draft.  In that scenario the 49ers could have been big players trading for Kolb given the 12 draft picks they had.  With the NFL draft in the past I think the 49ers will not be involved in trading for Kolb as their best assets in the trade were their draft picks.  The 49ers don’t have talent to give up on offense or defense in a trade for Kolb.  The Eagles will try to get the best deal and if they don’t they will simply hold onto Kolb.

With the 49ers, Seahawks and Cardinals all in desperate need of a reliable quarterback the most talked about division that many see Kolb being traded to is the NFC West.  A new collective bargaining agreement is supposed to be finalized this week with free agency and trades starting shortly thereafter.  Right now the most talked about destination for Kolb, and the one he said is most likely to happen, is the Arizona Cardinals.  Kolb said on the Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday,

“Arizona would be a great place. I’ve obviously envisioned myself there.”

The shows fill-in host Howard Eskin said the deal will most likely involve a starting defensive player, someone like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and a draft pick.  That is a steep price for Kolb who looks NFL ready but has only started seven NFL games.  The Cardinals are in desperate need of a quarterback especially with star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald in the last year of his contract.  If Fitzgerald does not think the Cardinals have a winning future without a clear quarterback to catch passes from he will sign elsewhere.  Also throw in that Fitzgerald’s contract prevents the Cardinals from trading him or using the franchise tag on him.  With Kolb on the Cardinals Fitzgerald stays, without Kolb Fitzgerald bolts after this season and the team realizes this.

I am hoping for Kolb to be traded far away from the NFC West.  But if he is traded to the Cardinals the blame for this lies in the hands of John and Jed York.  In 2005 Alex Smith was drafted by the 49ers while quarterback Kurt Warner signed with the Cardinals.  Since 2005 the 49ers have not made the playoffs and had only one non-losing season.  From 2005-2009 the Cardinals, lead by Warner, have won the NFC West twice and made one Super Bowl appearance.  For the 49ers at quarterback the years since 2005 has proven difficult to get over the losing hump with Alex Smith, Tim Rattay, Trent Dilfer, Shaun Hill, J.T. O’Sullivan and Troy Smith under center.  In that time the Cardinals have not only won the NFC West and went to the Super Bowl but they also cut loose their own draft bust quarterback Matt Leinart.  Yet the 49ers still cling to the hope that Alex Smith can be a good quarterback and Jim Harbaugh is the man to turn him around.

Where John York gets the blame for Kolb being traded to the Cardinals is his hiring of inept head coach Mike Nolan and giving him general manager powers even though he never made personnel decisions before.  The second head coach the York’s hired since 2005, Mike Singletary, had his inexperience clouded by his motivational rhetoric.  Nolan was responsible for drafting Smith instead of Aaron Rodgers and after hiring Singletary York did not put anyone in the general manager position with credible experience until January 2008 when they promoted Scot McCloughan.  Unfortunately even though McCloughan was instrumental in drafting Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Patrick Willis as vice president of player personnel he was fired two years after taking over as GM.

All of this is my lengthy way of saying, this cannot be serious that the 49ers will have Alex Smith at quarterback while it is a huge possibility Kolb will be starting for the Cardinals!  Back in May I said the 49ers should trade for Kolb just for the sake of keeping him away from other NFC West teams.  At the time it was kind of tongue-in-cheek but now it is serious.  How an organization like the 49ers, which built their reputation in the NFL through their legendary quarterbacks, is now so useless in finding their next franchise QB to lead them back to respectability is amazing.  In the past the Cardinals have proven more resourceful in finding quarterbacks than the 49ers with signing Warner and in the near future might prove that again with Kolb most likely landing with the team.  All while the 49ers remain stuck with Alex Smith.  The ship hopefully has been turned around with Trent Baalke as general manager, who has done well the last two drafts, Harbaugh as the new head coach and quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the hope for the future.  Still, doubt will always linger with Jed York as team president of the 49ers.


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