Jim Harbaugh is a quarterback coach who seemingly doesn’t have a quarterback now that he’s come to the 49ers. He might want to talk to Alex Smith and get him to stay.
I know, I know, many 49ers fans would be outraged by that. One of my readers said the 49ers should cut all three of their quarterbacks — Alex Smith, Troy Smith and David Carr — and get a quarterback in the draft.
Easier said than done. This is not a great year for quarterbacks in the draft. There are no sure things like Sam Bradford, Matt Ryan — or Andrew Luck.
The trend in college toward quarterbacks who both run and pass has created a problem for pro teams, who want their quarterback to be a great passer who runs only to escape a blitz.
The latest example of what college quarterbacks have become is Cam Newton, the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from Auburn. Newton is huge and multitalented, a good runner and passer. In other words, JaMarcus Russell or Tim Tebow.
Newton won’t wash out like Russell because he has an excellent work ethic. He’s more like Tebow, but the belief in the pros is that Tebow will make it because of his athletic ability and drive — but not as a quarterback.
Even if there were a can’t-miss quarterback in the draft, the 49ers wouldn’t have a shot at him because they’re drafting seventh.
They might have a shot at Jake Locker, the Washington quarterback who decided to stay in college for his senior year — and whose draft stock plummeted because he did not have an outstanding year.
Locker is an outstanding athlete with great speed and a strong arm, but he doesn’t seem to have the instincts a top quarterback needs. He’d be a project, not a first-year starter.
Only rarely can a team work a trade for a good quarterback, or sign one as a free agent. The Kansas City Chiefs were able to pick up Matt Cassel, and Cassel was good enough to win the AFC West for the Chiefs.
Not good enough, though, to get them past the Baltimore Ravens in their first playoff game.
The Raiders traded for Jason Campbell in the offseason, and he became a legitimate starter for them in their 8-8 season.
But I wouldn’t say that either Campbell or Cassel is better than Alex Smith.
Smith’s 2010 season was in a way a microcosm of his 49ers career. When he was given good pass protection and supported by a strong defensive effort, he had some great games.
When his pass protection collapsed and the defense did, too, he had poor to mediocre games. Overall, he was in the middle of the pack statistically in the league.
This was under a coach who didn’t understand quarterbacks and jerked him around, putting the one-hit wonder, Troy Smith, back as a starter against the Rams in St. Louis.
Alex might think he has to move on because of the hostility of the 49ers fan base and the local media. But he might also think it would be nice to play for the first time under a pro coach who understands quarterbacks.
Stranger things have happened.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.