The last week saw the San Francisco 49ers go from offering Alex Smith a contract, pursuing Peyton Manning, being a front-runner to land Manning, to being rejected by Manning and then ending up where the team started the process, with Alex Smith at quarterback. After flirting with the Dolphins, Smith re-signed with the 49ers for three-years, $24 million. The guaranteed amount is not officially known but it is reported to be anywhere between $9 million and $16.5 million, with up to $33 million in incentives. Welcome back, Mr. Smith.
Smith realized he had nowhere else better to go. The Dolphins, really? Nope, not even the chance of being reunited with Reggie Bush who went to high school with Smith in San Diego could pry him away. Signing with the Dolphins would have been a big middle finger to Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke for pursuing Manning, because the contract offered from Miami was similar to what he signed with the 49ers. After Manning signed, the two remaining teams seeking a starting quarterback was San Francisco and Miami, but the Dolphins still had incumbent starter Matt Moore on the team. Plus, the Dolphins signed David Garrard, after Smith visited with the team, to compete with Moore. Not exactly a vote of confidence for Smith from the Dolphins, who signed Garrard even though he did not play in the NFL last season.
Side note: You know something is wrong in Miami when former Packers QB Matt Flynn, who signed with the Seahawks, didn’t even want to sign with the Dolphins. Even though his offensive coordinator while he was in Green Bay, Joe Philbin, is the new head coach for the Dolphins. In addition, the Dolphins have been a franchise in free fall, play in the AFC East and have nowhere near the amount of talent the 49ers have. Miami is a destination where quarterbacks go to end their careers. Had Smith taken his talents to South Beach, he would have been quickly forgotten about as previous quarterbacks who have gone from one team as the starter, signed with the Dolphins and then slowly fell into an abyss. Those quarterbacks included Gus Frerotte, Daunte Culpepper, Joey Harrington, Chad Pennington and Chad Henne.
Regarding the 49ers pursuit of Manning, Smith said all the right things in the press conference yesterday, indicating it did not bother him.
Not offended at all. In fact, I would have relished the opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback job with Peyton Manning.
At least Smith is being diplomatic about it, although he has no choice. Who knows, maybe the Manning pursuit did not affect him. It wouldn’t have been the first time someone from the 49ers looked for a better option at quarterback other than Smith.
Alex knows he still cannot command the respect he thinks he deserves in the NFL. Some of the non-respect Smith receives is warranted. He had six seasons of up and down moments, mostly down, before Harbaugh said he believed in the QB and gave Smith the confidence he needed. Smith had a great season last year with 17 touchdowns, 5 interceptions and leading the 49ers to the NFC Championship. The main reason why Smith still does not get respect outside of the 49ers fans circle, is because he only has played one solid season and needs to back it up with even better play in 2012. Once Smith accomplishes this, everyone will start believing in him and give the respect due.
Bringing Smith back was the right thing to do. Manning would have been nice, but there was no guarantee he would be the Hall of Fame QB we all would expect him to be on the field. With Smith, the 49ers offense has continuity and can build on the accomplishments from last season. One of the gaping holes on offense was at wide receiver for the 49ers. With Randy Moss and Mario Manningham signed to compliment Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis in the passing game, Smith has no excuses this season why he cannot have another 3,000 yards passing season and throw for over 20 touchdowns for the first time in his career.
Alex Smith can make us forgot about all this Peyton Manning courtship by having a career year, making the Pro Bowl and leading the 49ers back to the playoffs. A Super Bowl appearance would help us forgot too.
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