Author's Note: This article was written before the Cardinals resigned Kurt Warner to a two-year deal.
I'll admit it; I've always been extremely critical of Mark Sanchez. Sure, he has all the physical tools, but when you've only started 16 games in your entire career, it brings to mind another Pac-10 quarterback drafted highly; Akili Smith.
Smith threw 32 touchdown passes during his senior season at Oregon, causing his stock to skyrocket. So much so that he was drafted third overall by the Cincinnati Bengals.
He only started 11 games in the college ranks.
Four years later, he's cut from Packers training camp. Another four years, and he can't even make it in the CFL.
Yeah, life pretty much sucks when you're a CFL outcast.
Now, you may be saying, "Matt Cassel never started a college game, yet he still leads the Patriots to an 11-5 record!". I hope you do say that, because that ties this entire article together.
Kurt Warner has had recent meetings with the 49ers, and it's seeming more and more likely by the day that Warner will play for his third NFC West team. It's pretty safe to say that Warner won't play more than two more NFL seasons, so the team that signs him will still have to plan for the future.
Matt Cassel never started a college game, true, but he studied the same system for four seasons under one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, Tom Brady. He had loads of time to get comfortable with the speed of the NFL and the playbook. Warner could be to Sanchez what Brady was to Cassel.
If you let Warner handle the reins for two years while all the while allowing Sanchez to learn from Warner, familiarize himself with the playbook and see spot duty here or there [in garbage time, in the preseason, etc.], then you can have both success with a proven quarterback now, and a young, promising quarterback later.
Drafting Mark Sanchez at No. 10 overall in this year's upcoming NFL Draft and signing Warner means both short and long term success for the 49ers. Will they choose to take this route?
Only time will tell.