Frantz: Niners' Willis has right idea, wrong message 

A difference-maker? Is Patrick Willis serious? Hang on, let me get this straight: The 49ers’ All-Pro linebacker made an outstanding observation on his team’s foolhardy pursuit of never-was QB David Carr in an attempt to “upgrade” the position, and then buttresses his argument with a plea for ... Michael Vick?

Vick — a difference-maker? Really?

License-plate maker, maybe. But difference-maker, no way.

Apparently responding to a tweet about Carr’s weekend visit to Santa Clara, Willis summed up his feelings with a tweetfull of candidness: “for real for what. we have 3 qb’s that are better then him. That’s a waste of his time.”

It sounds like the team didn’t listen, as Carr was signed Sunday night.

While I’m not certain if Willis’ math is entirely correct, I will grant that there are at least two QBs on the current Niners’ roster with bigger upside than Carr.

What I am certain of is that given the choice between Vick and Carr to fortify any quarterback situation, I’d take Carr. Hell, I might even take Lloyd Carr.

Willis disagrees: “I’m saying if we going to go get another qb. spend money on a difference maker. Like vick. my opinion. And well u got urs.”

U damn str8 I do.

Willis did make a good point, albeit clumsily, when he said, “We need impact players not duds.” There is no shortage of prospective starting QBs on the free agent market right now, many of whom have more impact potential than Alex Smith, Nate Davis or Shaun Hill.

Vick isn’t one of them.

Truth is, Vick could actually re-establish himself as a player in this league if he’d simply play to his strengths and minimize his weaknesses. Cleveland’s Joshua Cribbs has made an All-Pro career out of his supreme athleticism in Wildcat offenses and kick-returning roles.

Vick could potentially do the same thing, if he’d only stop looking in the mirror and trying to see a quarterback looking back at him.

Willis’ online comments raised more than a few eyebrow, before the signing was made official. Perhaps that’s why he backtracked a bit after the backlash began, apologizing for “hurt[ing] some feelings” and offering to “embrace him” if Carr becomes his teammate.

While it’s true that social networking sites have gotten more than a few athletes into hot water, as texting thumbs are often more willing to communicate feelings than tightly sealed mouths are, it was actually a bit refreshing to see Willis stepping up and taking some responsibility as a “voice of the team.”

Arguably the Niners’ best player, he should indeed make his feelings known to Scot McCloughan and Mike Singletary, in the same way that many star quarterbacks have influence over roster decisions on their teams.

Well, as long as that influence doesn’t lead to a huge mistake like Vick.

It’s clear that Willis’ intentions are in the right place, as he ended his QB discussion with Twitter followers this way: “that being said I just want to win.”

@Patrick: Us 2.

Sports personality Bob Frantz is a regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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