The 49ers finally realized having one quarterback on the roster, Alex Smith, as the only QB who has taken a snap in a regular season game was not going to work. I will put aside for now the issue of the 49ers still needing a number one quarterback on the roster. With only Smith and rookie Colin Kaepernick taking snaps with the 49ers first team offense head coach Jim Harbaugh knew some veteran help would be needed. The 49ers worked out Dante Culpepper earlier this week but decided to go with Josh McCown who signed a one-year contract at the league minimum.
Before the signing McCown was a volunteer quarterbacks coach at a high school in Charlotte. Now McCown will serve as the veteran backup to Smith and Kaepernick. If McCown ever enters a game for the 49ers, it means Smith and Kaepernick are either hurt or faltering badly. Let’s hope McCown will never be needed on the field and only in practice.
McCown played in the UFL last year with the Hartford Colonials posting a passer rating of 79.3, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The reason the 49ers went with McCown was because quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst coached him for two seasons with the Cardinals and two seasons in 2008 and 2009 with the Panthers. McCown has started 31 games in his career.
The bigger issue here for the 49ers is their lack of attention to the quarterback position. When Harbaugh was hired I thought the 49ers would not only have an offensive minded coach but one that was former quarterback, and would do everything he could to upgrade the position. For some reason Harbaugh anointed Smith the starter before he saw him in practice. This is something Mike Singletary didn’t do. Now, after Harbaugh watched Smith fall flat on his face against the Saints last week he is changing his tone.
What the 49ers should have done is traded or signed any of the number of quarterbacks that were available to compete with Smith and Kaepernick. Harbaugh said in an interview before the NFL lockout ended that he felt bad for Smith and his family for having to read everything that was said about the QB on the Internet. The funny thing is that what was said about Smith was observations of a former number one draft pick who was not living up to his expectations, which included last season.
Harbaugh is a smart head coach and is a quarterback guru. It baffles me that from the beginning Harbaugh would think Smith could still be a number one quarterback. Had Harbaugh said after he got hired that Smith would be welcomed back to compete to be a starter and the 49ers could have brought someone like Matt Hasselbeck or any of the other quarterbacks available. Hasselbeck is not necessarily the answer as the number one quarterback but it would have given greater competition for Smith and Kaepernick, than two undrafted rookies and now McCown. That would have helped Smith and Kaepernick by lighting a fire under them because there are three QB’s fighting for one spot. Do you really think Smith is scared of Kaepernick taking him over as the starting quarterback? Or McCown?
49ers GM Trent Baalke has done well in upgrading the holes in the roster but quarterback remains a deep canyon. The 49ers have not had a winning season in eight years which in large part was a lack of a quarterback. The 49ers either continue to think that quarterback is not important to win or this is all a ploy to have the worst record in the league in order to draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Either way the Smith/Kaepernick/McCown quarterback combination does not give me faith in the 49ers finally ending their eight-year streak of not having a winning record.