Alex Smith was supposed to be preparing for another postseason as the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. Circumstances drastically changed around him in November, leaving him sitting on the bench wondering what happened and what his future holds.
One team in a situation somewhat similar to Smith is the New York Jets, who may not have been a playoff team before the season started, but were not expected to be dealing with the chaos that they will end this season dealing with, not the least of which is the quarterback situation.
Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle seems to think that the best solution for both parties would be a union between Smith and the Jets during the offseason if the 49ers decide to trade or release him:
No quarterback is better prepared than Smith to withstand a booing, hostile fan base and a ruthless Gotham media. The tabloids can't kill you if you don't read 'em.
Smith is the antidote to the Jets' ailments - Sanchez's borderline talent and diva-ism, and Tebow's intriguing but unusable skill set.
And Smith doesn't require external motivation. He'll show up in the Big Apple ready to rock.
But for Smith, moving from San Francisco to New York would be the wrong move at the right time.
He needs to find a spot where there is no other quarterback capable of starting in place. There are so few of those places available right now, so the Jets should be on his short list. However, when you examine the situation Smith would be walking into with the Jets, not to mention the way that an offense has to adjust to what he can and can't do, there is no way that he would be allowed to succeed.
Quarterbacks hate the term "game manager" when it is used to describe them, though Jim Harbaugh did use it to describe Smith last year. But for the Jets, the New York media and fans, a game manager is not going to be good enough. Smith is going to be eaten alive by everyone in town when he decides to check down for a two-yard pass or take a sack instead of trying to take a shot down the field.
Plus, Smith needs a strong foundation around him if he is going to succeed. He is not the type of quarterback who can make receivers better. He needs to play with a great offensive line, running game and receivers.
San Francisco has all of those things—yes, there are great receivers (Michael Crabtree) and tight ends (Vernon Davis) on the roster—and Harbaugh was able to highlight Smith's best attributes into a successful formula.
Moving to the Jets, who have a bad offensive line, no running game and wide receivers who can't catch a cold, would put Smith in the same shoes that Sanchez finds himself in right now.
Smith needs to go to a situation where the team is close to winning, has a built-in foundation, a strong coaching staff and is willing to adjust to the style he plays, with low-risk, short, intermediate passes.
Smith's career was on a huge upswing following his success in 2011 and his performance in 2012. He needs to find the perfect spot to keep the momentum going. New York would absolutely be the worst place for him to go if he is looking for a rebirth next season.