Unless you’ve been in a diabetic coma for the past few months, you’re aware of Colin Kaepernick’s emergence with the San Francisco 49′ers. CK’s gotten the team where Smith has failed in his tenure – to the Super Bowl.
Quick aside – Make no mistake: the 9′ers are in the Super Bowl because of one man and one man only: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. With essentially the same squad that Mike Singletary screamed at into mediocrity, Harbaugh taught, cajoled, and molded into a team that nearly made it there his first year – 2011.
Kaepernick’s dynamic play has been the difference this year and he has a much higher “ceiling” than does Alex Smith. Smith has limited physical tools to work with, but maximizes them while minimizing mistakes. His talent never should’ve commanded a #1 overall pick out of Utah, but when it came down to him vs. Rodgers, the 9′ers chose the very coachable Smith over the bigger-armed, more mobile Rodgers who had the “know-it-all” label out of California.
That was then; this is now. The club won’t keep the two of them, so Smith is out.
But to what destination?
Fortunately for Smith, there are a few NFL teams who could really use an upgrade at QB and there is no “franchise” QB coming out of the draft this year…at least not like last year when Luck and RGIII were both highly prized. Cam Newton’s #1 status in 2010 was as much by default as his talents commanded since he had only one SEC college season. Sure, that was one incredible season, but it was still just one and he wasn’t without his questions.
Kansas City, Arizona, Jacksonville and New York are the “big four” I’m looking at for Smith’s services. Arizona may be last on this list because of spending so much so recently on another castoff – Philly’s Kevin Kolb – along with their huge offensive line woes. I don’t think that’s where Alex wants to wind up.
Kansas City is a good possibility. With their running game, it’s actually most likely Smith’s best fit. Since he’s not a quarterback that is known for carrying a team, he’ll have to fit in with the rest of the moving parts of whatever team he goes to while trying to be the glue that holds an offense together, making key throws to move the chains and being an efficient game manager type of player.
Jacksonville probably has the biggest need for a QB of any of those 4 teams. They have Blaine Gabbert, who doesn’t belong as an NFL starter, and Chad Henne, who doesn’t belong as an NFL starter. Gabbert just looks bad when he plays, period. Henne has the physical tools – and the big, live arm – but his days in Miami got him the nickname “Checkdown Chad” and he just doesn’t do well without a strong running game and play-action. That said, Jacksonville is as good a place for Henne’s skill set as anywhere (with Pocket Hercules in the backfield) and I’m not sure Alex Smith would help them all that much.
That brings us to the New York Jets. Alex Smith is a guy who has been in the league for a while now so he’s used to the spotlight. If Rex Ryan wants to “create” a 2nd QB controversy in 2 years (Tebow), he’ll grab up Alex and make the starting QB spot an open competition between him and Mark Sanchez. It’s a competition Smith should win rather handily given Sanchez’ inability to evolve. The “butt-fumble” certainly didn’t help his cause, either.
If I had to project today where San Francisco’s soon-to-be-castaway QB will be in 2013, my money’s on Gang Green.