I will preface this post by saying I am not a noob to this forum. My old handle was Stillincollege and has since been deleted because of account inactivity; but I still read posts on a regular basis.
Most of the posts that involve Harbaugh and possible draft selections for the QB position insinuate that he has some sort of God-given ability to judge and mold talent at the NFL level. This pattern resonates with what most reporters in the Bay Area are doing themselves. Some of the words one encounters for this mystery quarterback are “anointed,” phrases such as “in Harbaugh we trust.” The reality of the matter is that Harbaugh has yet to prove anything at the NFL level, and even those who have done so (specifically offensive-minded Hcs) have proven time and time again that one's capacity to draft a QB has nothing to do with how the franchise fares.
He was the Steelers' OC during Cowher's only superbowl win, and almost led the Cardinals to a victory of their own as their head coach. His only success came from using the veteran Kurt Warner, whose career he revived. The point is that he has yet to prove himself as being an effective draft-evaluator of QBs, but it is obvious that he works well with veterans. Although Ben Roethlisberger won a superbowl under his tenure with the Steelers, it is also fair to say the Steelers won in spite of him. The passing-efficient Roethisberger only came after Whisenhunt left Pittsburgh.
He was our OC during our last superbowl with Steve Young, and upon going to Denver he inherited John Elway, with whom he won two superbowls. He signed Jake Plummer as a free agent and turned his career around. His only success as a draft-evaluator and molder of college QBs came in the form of Jay Cutler. But it stands to reason that his reputation emerged from his work with veterans. His greatest failure, however, was Griese, who never could led the Broncos as far as Plummer could.
He was our OC during Montana's epic drive against the Bengals. He coached a young Brett Farve that came through trade to Green Bay. The only other quarterback that one associates with Holmgren in Matt Hasselbeck, whom the Packers drafted a year before Holmgren left the organization. Yet, it was Andy Reid who pushed for Hasselbeck, not Holmgren, leaving doubt as to Holmgren's ability to draft and mold QBs. Nonetheless, no one can question Holmgren's ability to coach quarterbacks.
Hasselbeck article - http://www.nfltouchdown.com/in-my-opinion-matt-hasselbeck/
As Shaun King astutely noted a couple of weeks ago, Jon Gruden has yet to prove that he can coach up young quarterbacks, especially those that the Buccaneers drafted. He had success only with veterans, going from his days in Oakland with Gannon to Brad Johnson, Griese, and Garcia. His failures were Luke McCown, Chris Simms, Shaun King, Bruce Gradkowski, just to name a few. Again, this is an offensive-minded head coach who succeeds like Whisenhunt with veterans.
For those of you who are hoping that Harbaugh is the man with the magic touch, look no further than Andy Reid. He handpicked Donovan McNabb when all of Philly booed the selection, made Kevin Kolb worthy of being debated for a 1st or 2nd round pick through trade, restored Vick's career, and went to the playoffs with Garcia. As stated before, he is the one who pushed for the drafting of Hasselbeck as a QB coach for the Packers. As a draft-evaluator and molder of young talent, Reid has proven himself to be amongst the best.
What is common between most of these coaches is that they took players like Favre, Plummer, and Roethlisberger (all of whom had talent) and won with them. It is reasonable to say that if a player like Cam Newton has talent, and Harbaugh proves that he can win with him, no one will question his judgment in the rear-view mirror. This statement is the same that one could make concerning the long-term relationship of Reid and McNabb (multiple NFC Championships and one trip to the superbowl). As far as Harbaugh's having some ability to pick and mold a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick into a star, numerous posts and articles online have already referenced the fact that most of the playoff QBs come from the 1st round—the Montanas, Bradys, and Warners are extremely rare.
With respect to Harbaugh and QBs, I would suggest praying for Reid-like all-around competence (with the draft, young talent, and veterans), while being satisfied with any resemblance to Jon Gruden as a coach who can win with with veterans. Anything in between those two poles, such as a similarity to Mike Shanahan, would be extremely solid. Yet, that which most posters and members of the media are neglecting, is the degree to which Harbaugh is competent on the other side of the ball. The inability to consistently field a strong defense got Gruden and Shanahan fired. For those of you who watched our game against the Eagles, none can forget how Andy Reid barked orders and organized his decimated defense (injury-plagued), ultimately leading his team to victory. If anything, the Eagles have consistently been strong on both sides of the ball over the years during Andy's reign. As a head coach, I do not want Gruden or Shanahan, just as I would not want Brian Billick (who on the opposite end of the spectrum fielded a strong defense but never had a good offense). But I cannot stress this point enough: it does not matter how good the future QB does in SF if our defense consistently fails, because Harbaugh will ultimately lose his job. I do not know how good Vic Fangio is compared to Manusky, or if Harbaugh possesses any ability to overcome any deficiencies of the former, all I care about is if we can get a QB, whether rookie or veteran, who can be coached to perform adequately so that the 49ers can compete for the playoffs year in and year out, as our defense holds its own.
I am one of those people who believes that the only player who has physical talent worth a number #1 pick is Cam Newton (who will not fall to us), and would rather spend our first two picks on fixing our defense, with players like Peterson, Prince, and Miller. There will be a run on QBs so that anyone we take in late 1st or 2nd round will be a reach. If Harbaugh really wants a QB, I see him taking one early or later in the draft, none in between. With the 7th overall pick he is in position to select the best, and with 12 picks in total he has enough selections to get a diamond in the rough. But as said before, anything in the late-1st to 2nd round range will just be reaching for a QB when we could simply select a defensive player who is being overlooked.
I do not advocate being cute and trading back while waiting for our QB in the middle of the 1st. I rather have Vince Wilfork than Rashaun Woods.
[ Edited by Eskendale on Apr 24, 2011 at 11:52 PM ]