Matt Maiocco ran a poll recently asking his readers whether they were pro or con on the notion of Alex Smith returning to the 49ers for the 2011 season. Somewhat surprisingly, 57% voted pro. Smith himself voted off the record at season’s end by remarking, “You’ve got to be kidding.”
The fan vote might be a reflection of having Jim Harbaugh as the HC now, instead of He Who Is Gone. The feeling might be that Harbaugh will run a dynamic offense that will make any QB seem good, rather than needing a QB who is superb to carry an otherwise pedestrian operation. The uncertain CBA situation also plays into the vote, since Smith is one of the few QBs who can actually sign a contract with the 49ers, who currently have only David Carr on the roster.
Smith would have to sign that contract before March 4th, however. And that’s where it gets a little murky for Smith’s own options. If he’s a FA on March 4th and the CBA has not been signed, Smith faces the possibility of losing yet another year of his career. He might not be able to join another team in time to legitimately compete for a starting job, since he won’t know the playbook in time for the season opener. If he rejoins the 49ers, however, his chances to start next year are pretty good. He knows the team and its receivers, which gives him a leg up on any competition that occurs.
Decisions, decisions. Some fans are nervous that Smith might be leaving the team just when he is ready to blossom. Other fans, of course, feel he will never blossom, no way, no how, not here, not there, not anywhere at all. The former fans fear he will end up in Seattle and come back to haunt us. The latter fans pray he will end up in Seattle and assure that team’s demise.
Smith would have to know, if he re-upped with the Niners, that he most likely would not be considered a long term solution. A one year deal would be all either he or the team would likely want to negotiate. For Smith, a good year would increase his value on the FA market for 2012, if not his long term chances here. But another so-so year, and a mid-season benching, under Harbaugh’s QB friendly offense, could be a dagger in the heart to his resume.
Of course, if the new CBA is signed by March 4th, then it’s business as usual in the NFL and Smith would most likely sign elsewhere for 2011. For Smith and his agent, then, the choice now in February is which bet to make. Assume the CBA will be signed and Smith can move on down the road. Or assume it will not be signed and keep his locker at 4949 Centennial Blvd. for one more year by signing a new contract now.
Personally, I don’t care whether Smith comes back or moves on. I’ve tossed my chips in with Harbaugh. He’s going to get this QB situation settled. If I’m Smith, though, I have to be sweating a little. His luck so far in the pro game has pretty much sucked, so he’s got to wonder if he’ll bet the wrong pony now, too. No matter which nag he chooses. If you see Smith coming out of a voodoo parlor wearing a necklace of bones and sprinkling himself with anti-gremlin juice, you’ll know he’s in a serious rassle with fickle fate.
Good luck, Alex. Want to buy a used rabbit’s foot? I got it off a guy who stepped in front of a bus. He don’t need it anymore.