49ers still on life support

Sep 8, 2011 at 11:36 AM


It has been nine long years since the San Francisco 49ers have seen a playoff appearance and we are now counting on head coach number four in Stanford extraordinaire Jim Harbaugh to apply the paddles and yell "clear," to resuscitate a failing 49er heart that has seen more traumas then any other throughout the entire league. Watching the NFL Draft was a tainted experience with the NFL Lockout and now seeing us waste a shot at acquiring needed quarterback experience has been even more of a call for Obama healthcare reform.

The need for a new head coach was blatantly apparent following the 2010 NFL season. Acquiring Jim Harbaugh was a welcoming sight for all 49er fans as was purging the existing coaching staff to try something anew. The need for a new quarterback was just as apparent as the head coach when you look back on all the broken promises and lack thereof in the mental and physical skills of 2005's number one draft pick, Alex Smith.

In that same year and in that same exact draft went the now Super Bowl MVP, Aaron Rodgers, who is now wearing that life changing signature ring that will cement him within the framework of so many champions previously before him. We see ourselves as 49er fans exasperated with what has been a total lack of real insight into the most important position in any professional football team.

Our best attempt to address that this year was drafting Nevada's Colin Kaepernick, who shows true potential, but is at the very best a few years away from ever being considered a true caliber starting quarterback within this win-now philosophical league mentality. To off-set the doubts the San Francisco 49er top management, President Jed York, General Manager Trent Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh, painted the picture that resigning troubled starting quarterback Alex Smith to a one-year contract worth five million dollars was our most tangible option.

I, like so many of you, strongly disagree with what we all can plainly see out on the field and from sitting at home watching on the big screen. Alex Smith will never be the true West Coast style of quarterback the San Francisco 49ers have been engraved by in the likes of Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jeff Garcia. Mike Nolan's insistence in picking him has been our utter unraveling into multiple annual despairs one right after another.

Our flirtation with former nemesis Seattle Seahawk veteran quarterback Matt Hasselback was an instance where we could have had a legitimate seasoned player actually driving us towards a distinctive shot at acquiring the division title. However, our inability to get a deal done with him encouraged him to sign with the Tennessee Titans as their starting quarterback. This was again a major mistake on the part of management in believing we would see progress in Alex Smith's inconsistencies and/or we would look to the bargain bin in free agency in case of emergency.

After the first pre-season game against the New Orleans Saints, a 24-3 loss that highlighted Smith and Kaepernick's inconsistencies and the offensive lines inability to provide any sort of adequate protection, Jim Harbaugh and the coaching staff signaled the need to desperately find a solution should the impending season be in danger. In comes former Minnesota Viking three-time Pro Bowler Daunte Culpepper for a workout at the 49ers training camp facility. At 34-years old he hadn't played since 2009 when he was acquired by the Detroit Lions to salvage their season. After the workout, the coaching staff decided against a serious signing involving Daunte, indicating that they were not sufficiently satisfied with what they had seen.

Another un-drafted quarterback that was signed by the 49ers was Sacramento State's McLeod Bethel-Thompson who was seen in very brief playing time this pre-season. He was just released prior to getting to the required 53-man roster. Most shocking was the cutting of journeyman quarterback Josh McCown who was signed as the team's third-tier quarterback on the roster.

McCown is well versed in appearances around the entire NFL having played with several teams in the league as an experienced back-up quarterback with varying accomplishments always short of being able to become a starter. Last year he played in the United Football League and coached high school players outside the Charlotte, North Carolina area. In fact, Josh had played with four different NFL teams within his eight-year NFL career and never was able to supplant the competition on any team that he was in contention with for one's position.

In my opinion, so goes the notion that the 49ers are serious about elevating the most important position on the entire team. One year ago, as all of you will recall, we signed former Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith as a third-tier quarterback. He actually contributed in a most positive direction while starting and winning some games. Now the 49ers look to Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien, who led his team to the Rose Bowl and had won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award as the nations top senior quarterback. Tolzien, an un-drafted rookie, joins Smith and Kaepernick on the roster after being claimed of waivers from the San Diego Chargers.

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has publicly insisted that he is confident that Kaepernick is capable of backing up the clearly inconsistent Smith, even after showing shaky statistics in the exhibition games. He had five interceptions and no touchdowns. I cannot see any upside to such an analysis and see injury to this position as being beyond catastrophic for us going forward.

Finally, I want to say that after hearing Jed York say that he was not worried about the quarterback position because his greatest acquisition was head coach Jim Harbaugh this year, a wave of nervousness was sent throughout the legions of fans. Yes, Jim Harbaugh is a great teacher at the quarterback position and has had success as a coach with that particular position, but it has been evident since 2005 that we made the wrong decision in that draft and have never addressed that real issue since.

Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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