Not sure if I should apologize for being away from my desk for awhile or for returning to it, but esconced in my chair once more am I.
The national and local football worlds are all touting the 49ers as legitimate 2012 Super Bowl contenders. This is normally a recipe for an overrated team to ride its laurels straight into the dumpster once the regular season begins and the team discovers that reputation does not win any games.
But no Jim Harbaugh coached team will ever take this ill fated ride. The poor sumbitch has a life long “gotta beat my older brother” complex that will never go away. He will always be driven to try harder and he will make his team try harder, too.
If anything, the 49ers are underrated this year. Though the team and its HC are highly regarded, there is a fierce national and local denial syndrome when it comes to the 49ers QB, Alex Smith. Nobody believes this guy is anything but a marginal, game managing talent. The team must win despite his presence under center.
The football world has a heavy investment in years of Smith bashing and just cannot come to grips with the plain and simple fact that Smith is an excellent QB. Not just good or okay — excellent. He’s learned his craft and is entering his prime years. Elite is a word for the ESPN/media world. It’s good for spirited yabbering and nothing more. A fabricated entity with nothing but perception and opinion to give it form.
But excellent is a word that describes a man’s performance, not the comparison of it to other performers. And last year, Smith’s performance was excellent. He was clutch all year, including the playoffs. When the 49ers needed to manage a lead, he did it. When they needed a come back, he did it. It’s common to say he is slow to make decisions, but never is it also pointed out that he rarely ever makes a bad decision. Bad decisions lose games. Unless you’re Lucky Eli and make two goof ball heavaronis in a championship game and get away with both of them.
But this is the last year Smith will fly under the radar. With a talented crew of WRs finally assembled around him, the Legend of Alex has only just begun.The legend of Josh Johnson, however, seems destined to go the way of the legend of Troy Smith. From reports out of camp, Johnson wins the beauty contest among the team’s QBs, but that silken veneer slips away once the action begins. Which helps explain his less than fabulous career in Tampa Bay. It would not be surprising to see Scott Tolzien holding the third stringer’s clipboard this coming year, while Johnson begins that long, safe, stress free, and lucrative backup QB enterprise that David Carr and many others have managed to whittle out for themselves.
The legend of Colin Kaepernick will probably come to fruition with another franchise. But this is an important year for him and for the 49ers. The team needs a viable backup QB. They dodged a bullet last year and may not be so fortunate this year. Kaepernick should be excited. The exhibition season gives him a chance to once again play actual football, and the expectation of a more explosive Niner offense might give him some garbage time minutes during the season, too. Two good exhibition seasons in a row, a few good in season efforts, and Colin can get himself some Matt Flynn money in a couple years when the 49ers trade him.